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Poor Senior Vision Often a Window on Disease

Geriatrics Society urges older adults to monitor eyesight carefully

SATURDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults need to monitor themselves for eyesight problems, which can appear gradually and worsen over time, says the American Geriatrics Society (AGS). If not properly monitored, eyesight deterioration can lead to other long-term problems.

"It's important for seniors to schedule routine eye exams every year. Changes in vision will not only hinder a person's ability to maintain their daily routine, such as driving or reading, but poor vision can also be a sign of more serious health problems," AGS member Dr. Amna Buttar said in a prepared statement.

"Most vision problems can be corrected with a simple prescription change. Regularly visiting a doctor will also help to prevent and treat common eye diseases that affect seniors, such as glaucoma and cataracts," Buttar added.

Here are some signs that could indicate the need to see an eye doctor:

  • Blurry vision. If road signs are hard to see while driving or words are blurry when reading, it could mean it's time for a prescription change.
  • Trouble seeing in dim lighting. This is often an early indication of vision deterioration.
  • Tripping, stumbling or bumping into things more often than usual in familiar places, like at home, could be sign of poor vision. Peripheral vision declines with age, making it difficult for seniors to see objects on either side of them and causing a change in their visual perception.
  • Constant headaches or dizzy spells may indicate vision problems. When people have trouble seeing, they tend to squint. The resulting strain on the eyes can cause headaches and dizzy spells.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about aging and eyesight.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Geriatrics Society, news release, August 2007

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