As we move into our senior years, regular eye exams with an ophthalmologist become even more important for preserving sight.
Presbyopia usually starts in our early 40s and can increase with age. Even people who see well and who don’t have age-related eye diseases may have vision changes that might not be obvious. For instance, it may gradually become harder to distinguish an object from its background when they are the same color (like a white coffee cup sitting on a white table). This is called loss of “contrast sensitivity.”
For seniors, the ability to see well in different lighting may change. When going from a well-lit area to one with poor light (or the other way around), your eyes may take longer to adjust and focus, or they don’t adjust very well.
Problems adjusting to light and dark can make driving more difficult, especially at night or in the rain. Driving can be even more challenging when eye diseases affect your peripheral (side) vision or increase your sensitivity to glare.
For aging drivers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends the following safety measures:
- Take a driving course designed specifically for seniors
- Drive during daylight hours
- Reduce speed
- Be extra-cautious at intersections
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (The Academy) recommends that you keep your windshield clean inside and out and make sure your eyeglasses are not scratched or dirty.
It’s important to have a complete eye exam with your ophthalmologist every year or two after age 65.
Keeping up with regular eye exams allows your ophthalmologist to catch problems early. The sooner a problem is detected, the more likely it is that treatment will be successful.
The Academy recommends adults age 65 and older see their ophthalmologist for a complete eye exam every year or every other year.
During regular eye exams, your ophthalmologist will check for age-related eye diseases, including:
An interesting fact: ophthalmologists can identify other health problems such as diabetes or stroke through eye exams.
Need help paying for an eye exam? EyeCare America, a program of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, provides low-cost or no out-of-pocket cost eye exams to eligible seniors.