According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), older adults represent the majority of the visually impaired population, with visual impairment included among the 10 most prevalent causes of disability in the U.S.
Many of the readers on Minding Our Elders are aware of the importance of eye health as we age. However, it's easy to become passive when it comes to a painless sight stealer like glaucoma. The National Eye Institute wants us to remember:
Each year in January, Glaucoma Awareness Month is observed and the National Eye Institute (NEI)National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) continues educating to the adult population on the topic of glaucoma and eye health to avoid blindness. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damages the eye’s optic nerve, which carries visual signals to the brain. It can lead to vision loss or blindness if left untreated. Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of this disease. Adults age 40 and older and everyone age 60 and older are at higher risk and should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every 1 to 2 years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people over 65. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, and can increase the risk of early death. Fortunately, falls are a public health problem that is largely preventable. The CDC suggests these steps as a start:
Newer studies are discovering that the role of fish oil in our diets is broader than once thought. The Omega-3 fatty acids naturally found in fatty fish but often taken in capsule form have long been considered of major importance for heart health. Lately, scientists have discovered that these Omega-3s are of great benefit to our brains, as well, especially as we age.
A recent story in the New York Times reports on new information suggesting that many problems we face as we age, including memory loss, insomnia, depression – even cancer – could be caused by changes in our eyes. Many of us become aware of vision changes in our early to mid-40s, when we find, as my mother used to say, that “the print in the newspaper keeps getting smaller.” What’s happening, of course, is presbyopia. As the eye ages, the lens of the eye gradually loses its ability to focus on close objects, thus the prevalence of reading glasses in our mid-years.
Scientists and doctors and increasingly encourage people to get tested early for Alzheimer’s disease should they have a reason to think they are at risk. Since there is no cure for the disease, many people understandably wonder what the advantage of early diagnosis may be. Considering that testing is often invasive and expensive, such as those tests developed using spinal fluid, there is a reason to be skeptical. Now, however, newly developed methods used during eye exams that can identify very early Alzheimer’s disease offer a risk free, cost effective method of early detection.
...You are helped into a chair and the doctor covers one of your eyes and
asks what letters you see. What is a letter, you think, and why is he
covering my face? You start to squirm and then push him away. You get
more confused and frightened because you don't know what they want with
After reading a report – the first of its kind – on how cataract surgery can benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease,
I wrestled with some personal, if unfounded, guilt. My dad didn’t have
AD, but he did have dementia induced by a failed brain surgery.
Before his surgery, Dad’s sight was poor at best.
The fact that he also had cataracts was known, but after the brain
surgery threw him into severe dementia, his cataracts became a minor
problem. Or so the doctors thought.