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Common Eye Complaints and What to do About Them

As Low Vision Awareness Month continues, we want to talk about three eye problems that commonly affect the elderly, and what you can do about them.

Some vision problems are serious, and require treatment. Cataracts, for example, must be treated with cataract surgery or they could cause blindness. A sudden occurrence of double vision can signal a stroke. But many changes to the eye are just a normal part of aging. They’re not scary, but they can be aggravating and distracting.

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Read on to learn about the top three most common eye problems in seniors:

Dry Eye

If your eyes get dry and scratchy, you’re not alone. Dry eye is one of the most common eye conditions that affects the elderly: 20 percent of individuals over the age of 45 are affected, and that number rises as we age.

If you’re suffering from a feeling of grit in your eyes or an uncomfortable burning, itching sensation, your pharmacist may be able to recommend several non-prescription eye drops that can temporarily provide relief. You can’t use these drops for more than 72 hours, so if symptoms persist, see your eye doctor. If you notice that your eyes are dry when the air is very dry, such as during the coldest winter months or in the height of summer, when the air conditioner is running constantly, an air humidifier might help alleviate some discomfort.

Red Eye

Older adults commonly suffer from minor redness of the eye. If you’re bothered by your red eyes, try an over-the-counter product like Visine, which decreases redness by constricting small blood vessels in your eye.

Like treatments for dry eyes, treatments for red eyes can’t be used for more than 72 hours consecutively. If you have narrow-angle glaucoma, don’t use products for dry eyes, as they can trigger an attack.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

If you have seasonal allergies, you might find that your eyes are commonly affected. Sneezing is bad enough, but when accompanied by itchy, watery, tearing eyes, it can be almost unbearable. If you think you might have eye irritation caused by allergies, talk to your pharmacist who can determine if a diagnosis of allergic conjunctivitis is likely. Then, the pharmacist can recommend antihistamines or products specifically targeted at relieving your eye symptoms.

These eye problems are minor, but the irritation they cause can be serious. Luckily, there are simple treatments for most common minor eye problems. Talk to your pharmacist, or for conditions that persist, your eye doctor, to find relief.

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