Common Vision Problems in the Elderly

by Angie on

The past week was hell. My dad misplaced his glasses and what a grumpy man he became. He couldn’t read his papers and had double vision. Okay, seeing a double vision of me, probably increased his grumpiness even more. Eventually, I found his prescription glasses in his room, hiding inside his closet. Dad was so happy that I could literally see a twinkle in his eye.

This incident inspired me to write about …

Common vision problems in the elderly

Once you have turned 60, it is common to have vision problems. It is estimated that 1 in 3 individuals will suffer from some form of vision-reducing eye disease by the time they turn 65 years old.

Therefore, vision problems among the elderly is a major health care problem.

These problems can vary from something as simple as being either short or long sighted to having cataract. A study published in the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 1997 (volume 2; Pg no. 216-220), stated that vision impairment is associated with a decreased ability to perform activities of daily living and an increased risk for depression.

Prevention is better than cure

It is advisable for the elderly to have an annual eye exam to detect any abnormality and treat them accordingly. This is important especially for those who are diabetic because of one of its main complications is with vision either diabetic retinopathy or even blindness!  The earlier that you do this, the more likely a good vision can be retained.

Types of vision problems

The following are the common vision problems that occur in the elderly you should be aware of:

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

This is an eye disease that affects the macula (the center of the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye) and causes central vision loss. Although small, the macula is the part of the retina that allows us to see fine detail and colors. Activities like reading, driving, watching TV and recognizing faces all require good central vision provided by the macula. While macular degeneration decreases central vision, peripheral or side vision remains unaffected.


These are cloudy or opaque areas in the normally clear lens of the eye. Depending upon their size and location, they can interfere with normal vision. Usually cataracts develop in both eyes, but one may be worse than the other. Cataracts can cause blurry vision, decreased contrast sensitivity, dulling of colors and increased sensitivity to glare.

Diabetic retinopathy

This is a condition that occurs in people with diabetes, such as my dad. It is the result of progressive damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. These damaged blood vessels leak blood and other fluids that cause retinal tissue to swell and cloud vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. In addition, the instability of a person’s glucose measurements over time can impact the development and/or severity of the condition. At its most severe, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.

Dry eye

This is a condition in which a person produces too few or poor-quality tears. Tears maintain the health of the front surface of the eye and provide clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.


This is a group of eye diseases characterized by damage to the optic nerve resulting in vision loss. People with a family history of glaucoma and older adults have a higher risk of developing the disease. Glaucoma is often painless and can have no symptoms. Over time, it can take away peripheral (side) vision.

Retinal detachment

This is a tearing or separation of the retina from the underlying tissue. Retinal detachment most often occurs spontaneously due to changes to the gel-like vitreous fluid that fills the back of the eye. Other causes include trauma to the eye or head, health problems like advanced diabetes, and inflammatory eye disorders. If not treated promptly, it can cause permanent vision loss.

As disturbing as some of these vision problems appear to you, there are remedies and solutions available be it via surgery, medications (supplements & eye drops) or even programs that can help to prevent the progression of these problems. Please consult with your doctor on the best solutions for the specific eye problem that your parent(s) may be suffering from.

If you are interested in finding out more about vision problems or on suitable products for your eye, please click here.


Written by: Angie

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