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Caring for Your Eyes at Age 65 and Up by Kristen Peterson, M.D.

March 12, 2020

Dr. Peterson is a comprehensive ophthalmologist, cataract specialist, and dry eye specialist with the Marietta Eye Clinic.

Your vision is fundamental to your quality of life, and proper preventative care gives you every advantage possible in the effort to keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear. At each stage of your life, different types and frequency of eye examinations are necessary to maintaining good ocular health.

How Often You Need Eye Exams

If you are 65 years or older, you have no symptoms of eye disease, and you are seeing clearly, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the doctors at the Marietta Eye Clinic recommend that you have an examination performed by an eye doctor every 1 to 2 years. This is because the incidence of ocular disease increases with age. Comprehensive eye exams include more than checking your prescription for glasses and contacts. Optometrists and ophthalmologists conduct comprehensive eye examinations to check for damage from health conditions such as diabetes and to check specifically for eye diseases that can lead to blindness, such as glaucoma and cataracts.

If you have symptoms of eye disease or cannot see clearly, your ophthalmologist may recommend that you have more frequent exams.

Key Age-Related Eye Diseases to Watch For

Age is a major factor in many health conditions and diseases, including eye disease. There are several diseases and conditions your ophthalmologist will keep an eye on in your regular examinations once you are over 65. Here are four key eye diseases your doctor will start to watch for:

  • Cataracts This refers to clouding of the lens when proteins in the eye start to break down. Cloudy lenses can prevent light from focusing in the retina, which may result in blurry vision, seeing double, light sensitivity, inability to see in dim lighting, or seeing faded colors.
  • Diabetic retinopathy — Diabetic retinopathy occurs as a result of damage to blood vessels in the retina due to high blood sugar levels. Blood vessels in the eye may swell and leak or close completely, or damaged, fragile blood vessels may grow in the retina and bleed or cause scar tissue. Diabetic retinopathy can result in blurry vision or loss of central and/or peripheral vision.
  • Age-related macular degeneration — Age-related macular degeneration occurs when protein deposits or abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. Age-related macular degeneration affects central vision.
  • Glaucoma — Glaucoma results when a buildup of this fluid exerts pressure on the optic nerve and damages its nerve fibers, producing blind spots in a patient’s vision.

Don’t Wait to Make an Appointment

Routine eye exams have been proven to help combat eye disease, visual impairment, and total blindness. Keep in mind the guidance above and reach out to your local optometrist or ophthalmologist more frequently if you are at a higher risk of developing disease, if you have personal history of visual issues or disease, or if your family has a history of eye disease. It may save your vision.

More About Kristen Peterson, M.D.

Dr. Peterson is an ophthalmologist with the Marietta Eye Clinic who specializes in cataracts and dry eye. She serves the Kennestone, East Cobb, and Towne Lake offices. She received an undergraduate degree in biology from Emory University and a medical degree from the Emory University School of Medicine. She is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Read her full bio here.

References and Additional Resources

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. It describes itself as a “global community of 32,000 medical doctors who protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public.” Its website is a great resource to learn more about how to care for your eyes.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) describes itself as the leading authority on quality care and an advocate for our nation’s health, representing more than 44,000 doctors of optometry (O.D.), optometric professionals, and optometry students. 

Eye Exam

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/eye-exam/about/pac-20384655

Eye Exam and Vision Testing Basics

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/eye-exams-101

Frequency of Ocular Examinations – 2015

https://www.aao.org/clinical-statement/frequency-of-ocular-examinations

Vision Screening Recommendations for Adults Over 60

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/seniors-screening

What Is Macular Degeneration?

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/amd-macular-degeneration

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-diabetic-retinopathy

What Is Glaucoma?

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma

What Are Cataracts?

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-cataracts

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When it comes to your eyes, nothing beats a face-to-face consultation with one of our eye doctors. Request an appointment to meet with one of our specialists.

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