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As your parents get older, it’s completely normal to see gradual changes in their eyesight. Over time, they may become more sensitive to some things and less attentive to others. While a change in eyesight is expected with age, it’s important to be sure that those changes aren’t due to something more serious.
Adults over the age of 65 have a much higher risk of developing various eye diseases. That’s why it’s crucial to pay attention to your parents’ changing eyesight and schedule regular eye doctor visits for them throughout the year.
It’s understandable that you want to help your loved ones stay healthy as long as possible. Here are five signs it’s time to schedule an eye exam for your aging parents.
1. Increased Sensitivity to Light and Glare
Have you ever been with your mom or dad and caught their extreme irritation with brightness or glare? Maybe you noticed while driving them around town, or maybe it happened when you walked into a room with bright lighting.
Changes in light sensitivity due to aging is completely normal. When adults reach their 60s, their resting pupil size shrinks, causing them to receive only one-third as much light as normal. This means it’s harder for them to see in dim lighting, and their eyes become more sensitive to glare.
However, your parents’ light and glare sensitivity could also be due to ocular albinism. Ocular albinism is a genetic eye condition which diminishes the light-sensitive tissue in the eye’s pigmentation. As a result, sharpness in vision is impaired, and eyes become extremely sensitive to light and glare.
If you have noticed an increase of light sensitivity in your parents, simply ask their eye doctor to look into the reasoning behind it.
2. Trips or Falls
Tripping and falling are two of the scariest things that can happen to our parents as they get older. Your parent may miss a step while walking and take a tumble, or maybe they get their foot caught on an object and slip. No child wants to see their parents live with this fear.
If you begin to see early signs of tripping or falling in your parents, stronger glasses could help them immensely in avoiding injury or danger. It’s always better to catch the problem early on before any accidents happen.
3. Difficulty Differentiating Colors
While your parents may not even notice their inability to differentiate colors with age, it’s not hard for younger eyes to notice. Maybe you saw them putting on two different socks, or perhaps they have described colors incorrectly while shopping.
If you have noticed your parents falling into this category, it’s important to note which kind of hues they seem to be mixing up. A recent study found that color vision abnormalities due to age usually presents itself as mixing up lighter shades of blues and purples, or confusing yellow and greens. However, color vision issues due to color-blindness is revealed through mixing up reds and greens.
Either way, if you begin to see a change in your parents’ ability to distinguish colors, it’s always good to schedule an eye appointment for them. Their eye doctor may have solutions to help curb confusion.
4. Poor Depth Perception
With age, depth perception suffers. It also may become harder for your parents to distinguish items from each other. As a result, you may catch your parents bumping into objects more often.
If they express this to you vocally, or if you catch them bumping into items more frequently, it’s most likely a sign it’s time to schedule an eye exam for them. Your parents may be in need of a stronger prescription to help make depth and objects more distinguishable.
5. Difficulty Reading or Distinguishing Faces
Over 50 percent of Americans need some sort of vision aid, whether that’s for reading, nearsightedness, or farsightedness. It’s no surprise, then, if your parents need stronger prescriptions as they get older in order to read.
However, if you notice your parents expressing extreme discomfort or struggling while reading, even with their glasses on, then it’s probably time to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor. If they begin to have trouble distinguishing faces, then it’s even more important you schedule an appointment.
Extreme difficulty reading or distinguishing faces could be due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is currently the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S., topping both glaucoma and cataracts. The early signs of AMD that you may notice in your parents include blurred or wavy vision. However, if not caught in time, it will progress to complete loss of central vision. Without their central vision, your parents will be unable to see things directly in front of them. That’s why it’s so important to schedule an eye exam for your aging parents when you first notice them struggling to see or read.
Fading eye vision can take a toll on your aging parents. The last thing you want is for them to feel unable to do the things they love due to their weakened eyesight. If you notice your parents withdrawing from spending time with friends, or maybe giving up a hobby they enjoy, they could also be embarrassed or scared due to their vision issues.
The biggest favor you can do for your aging parents in the event of lost eyesight is helping them schedule an eye appointment. You can rest assured knowing whether your parents’ vision is fading due to natural aging, or something more serious that an eye doctor can address.
EPF Eye Care—formerly Evans, Piggott, & Finney—is a private optometry practice with locations in Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Attica, Indiana. With ten eye doctors and five locations, EPF offers convenient and specialty eye care for the entire family.