Problems with eyesight of senior manMaintaining vision health is extremely important for seniors that wish to continue living an independent lifestyle. We count on our vision for so much, that when eye problems begin to occur it can be very concerning.

Vision problems can range in severity from minor irritations to serious and irreversible damage.

Many eye conditions and diseases do not have many easily recognizable symptoms in the early stages, making them very difficult to detect.

One of the best ways for older adults to protect their vision and prevent serious problems is by having regular checkups from a doctor or an eye care professional.

There are also several signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for, that may indicate the beginnings of vision issues.


Symptoms of Eye Conditions for Seniors Ottawa

Changes in vision quality and ability come naturally with age. For example, a condition like presbyopia is something that happens to everyone at some point.

Presbyopia occurs when the lens of the eye begins to lose its elasticity and starts to thicken. The result is the ability to focus properly on nearby objects. You may have seen someone with presbyopia holding something away from themselves and squinting to get a better look at it. The condition typically triggers the need for reading glasses.

Presbyopia is totally manageable, and doesn’t cause too many complications, other than the inconvenience of having to wear bifocals or specialized lenses.

However, there are some more serious eye conditions that can have a big impact on overall health.

Symptoms of Progressive Vision Problems

Some of the warning signs that may indicate the development of severe eye issues, might be:

  • Hypersensitivity to sunlight, glare, and flashing lights
  • Problems differentiating contrasts and colors
  • Chronic watery or tearing eyes
  • Persistently dry eyes
  • Inability to read small print
  • Compromised depth perception – having trouble assessing the distance between objects
  • Long adjustment times for going dark to light or light to dark
  • Impaired night vision
  • Twitching or involuntary eye movements

Mild or inconsistent instances of these signs may be the result of minor eye problems, but it is always best to err on the side of caution and get checked out if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Severe Eye Conditions Causing Permanent Loss of Vision

Seniors are susceptible to a number of eye problems that can result in irreversible vision loss and permanent eye damage.

One of the biggest problems with these serious vision issues is that they are often difficult to detect early on. Regular eye exams with your doctor or a healthcare professional are highly recommended to prevent irreparable damage.

Some severe vision problems seniors should be concerned about, are:

  • Macular degeneration
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Floaters

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of serious and permanent vision loss in older adults over the age of 60.

This disease is characterized by degradation of the macula, which is the central area of the retina, located near the back of the eye. The macula is comprised of a collection of photoreceptor cells that are responsible for detecting light and sending relevant signals to the brain for image perception.

Macular degeneration is most often associated with aging, but can be managed and treated if caught early enough.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition of the eye that is directly associated with diabetes. High blood glucose levels from diabetes can cause blockages and damage to the blood vessels in the retina.

These blockages prevent the oxygen that the retina needs to do its job from reaching its destination.

Seniors with diabetes, type 1 or 2, should have regular eye checks done to prevent permanent loss of vision.


Glaucoma is a severe eye condition that is typically caused by extreme pressure that comes from within the eye, known as intraocular pressure.

If there is no relief of this intraocular pressure, it can result in serious damage to the nerve fibres in the retina. This damage is often irreversible and can end in permanent vision loss and even blindness.

Glaucoma is also tricky to detect in the early stages, so regular eye exams are the best method of prevention.


Like macular degeneration, seniors are also at a higher risk of developing cataracts. Cataracts are known to strike earlier than macular degeneration, and are most prevalent in people over the age of 40.

Cataracts involve the clouding of the lens in the eye over time. They typically start with blurred vision that occurs when the retina is not getting enough light. If not treated, cataracts can result in vision loss and blindness.


Most people have experienced some degree of floaters at some point in their lives, which are generally spots or glimmers of light appearing in your field of vision.

Floaters are typically only a concern if they are occurring regularly and getting more severe as time goes on. Consistent floaters may be an indication of a bigger problem and should be attended to as soon as possible.