senior woman having her eyes examinedFebruary is Low Vision Awareness Month and we want to educate our readers on common vision loss signs and symptoms.

Vision loss is a common problem for aging adults. Although those over 65 make up only about 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for about 30 percent of all visually-impaired individuals, according to the CDC.

Aging increases your risk for certain types of eye conditions that can lead to blindness. Regular eye exams are the very best way to avoid vision problems. But it’s also useful to be aware of the warning signs of vision problems. And since February is Low Vision Awareness Month, now is a great time to learn those signs.

See an eye doctor immediately if you experience:

  • Spots or floaters in your field of vision. Usually, these are associated with a benign condition called vitreous detachment, which often happens with age. But if you have a sudden onset of spots and floaters in your visual field, they can signal something that may threaten your sight: a serious tear or detachment of the retina.
  • A dark curtain across your field of view. This can signal that your retina has separated from its underlying blood vessels, and needs to be reattached immediately.
  • Cloudy and blurred eyesight. Along with the appearance of halos around lights at night and the loss of your ability to see bright colors, these vision changes can signal cataracts. Cataracts are not a medical emergency, but eventually could lead to blindness unless you have cataract surgery.
  • Scratchy, tearing eyes. This can be caused by dry eye syndrome, which is not usually a medical emergency, and can be treated with prescription eye drops.
  • Painful eyes with nausea and vomiting. This can signal an acute attack of narrow-angle glaucoma, which can cause permanent damage unless treated.
  • Blind spots. If you have diabetes and experience blind spots in your field of view, you may have diabetic retinopathy, vision-threatening damage to your retina. Diabetic retinopathy is often preventable, so if you have diabetes, take special care to get regular eye exams.
  • Double vision. Double vision can sometimes signal a serious underlying condition, such as stroke. If you have double vision, see a doctor immediately.
  • Narrowing of your field of vision. This can be caused by glaucoma that has damaged your optic nerve. Without medical treatment, vision loss can continue.
  • A loss of your central field of vision. This symptom is often caused by macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness among seniors. Today, therapy can help halt the progress of macular degeneration, and even may help you regain some vision.
  • Blurred vision in one eye. This can signal that you’ve developed a macular hole in your retina. Without treatment, this condition can worsen and cause permanent damage, so see treatment immediately.

Getting regular eye exams is the best way to prevent these problems before they begin. If you’ve been procrastinating on scheduling an eye exam, today is the day!

Do you get eye exams yearly? What made you decide to do so? Tell us in the comments below.

For more information, please review our Low Vision & Eye Problem Resources.