Eye Degeneration
How it Affects You and Your Aging Parents

Eye degeneration is a serious concern for aging adults. And it should be a concern. So much of your elderly parent’s chances of staying independent depends on their vision...

  • Reading,

  • Taking medicines,

  • Knowing where to walk (or, more importantly, where NOT to walk).

  • Identifying a friend’s face.

Doesn’t it make sense to do all you can to prevent eye degeneration?

Having poor eyesight can be a huge problem for someone of any age to deal with.
An acquaintance of mine described a class she once took. She had to try on different types of glasses that were made to show what it was like to see with various types of eye diseases.
  • One was like looking through an oily gel.

  • Another had a squiggly bar down the center.

  • Still another blocked her view on one side,

  • One changed the color of fake pills that were set before her.

The good news is that there are recent studies show that all three of the most common causes of blindness may be partly prevented. They include
  • cataracts,

  • glaucoma, and

  • macular degeneration (which affects mostly women).

Most cataracts can not be prevented. However, you may be able to...
  • slow the development of cataracts in your aging parents. Stopping smoking and controlling other illnesses, like diabetes, and following doctor’s orders can help.

  • Plan a diet for them that has lots of fruits and leafy vegetables, as that may also help.

  • The same goes for Vitamins A, C and E, beta carotene, zinc oxide, and copper, according to recent studies. Your diet plan for them should also include fish, as it also helps (but not too much of it, since some types can be harmful).

  • Before making changes to your parent’s diet, however, it’s best to check with their doctor first, since some foods can interfere if eaten with certain medications.
To treat cataracts, surgery can be an option for the elderly. But, as with anything, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Clearly, your vision of independence for your aging parents should begin with their vision and its care.

If your elderly parent has glaucoma, find out from their doctor if they are among those who could help fight it by using glaucoma eye drops daily and instruct their caregiver accordingly.

For others who have heart disease, taking some medications that lower cholesterol might help against a certain type of glaucoma. Likewise, check to see if your parents do, and, if so, ask that those medicines be added to their daily prescriptions.

It is possible your parent’s doctor has already diagnosed macular degeneration in its early stages. The doctor may suggest you monitor it in your elderly parent with an “Amsler grid” which they or their caregiver can use at home to catch any changes early.

Advise your elderly parents or their caregiver to make sure they wear tinted glasses. There are orange or yellow-tinted UVA- and UVB-blocking sunglasses that have a 99-100% filter against rays when in sunlight.

You should instruct your parents or their caregiver to also keep an eye on their blood sugar level, which is important to do, since diabetes can cause eye disease, especially in women.

As always, it’s important to follow doctor’s orders for all other conditions. They should have regular eye check-ups to catch eye degeneration and diseases early, before it’s too late. It’s best if you see an eye doctor every 2-4 years. If your aging parents are age 65+, they should have an eye check-up every 1-2 years- maybe even as often as every year if your family has a history of eye disease.

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