Some changes in vision are a natural part of aging. Others are caused by age-related disease. In either case, it’s important to remain vigilant about monitoring any change in visual acuity.
Home eye tests can be a critical part of early detection, but these tests should only be one component of a larger eye-care strategy.
The Urgency of Elderly Eye Care
Age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma – seniors are at risk for a variety of health conditions that cause visual impairments. Several of these conditions provide little or no warning while vision is lost. Permanent vision loss can develop gradually, without pain and or any symptoms. That’s part of the reason why the American Optometric Association suggests an annual exam for all people over 60.
Apart from protecting loved ones from disease, eye exams are important because even people who enjoy strong visual acuity can have difficulty with daily tasks. Acuity is just one element of vision; there’s also depth perception, sensitivity to light, side vision, color acuity, and so on.
In other words, just because someone performs well on a home test doesn’t necessarily mean their vision is robust. For instance, someone with high acuity and poor depth perception may be at increased risk of suffering a fall.
Ophthalmological Vision Care for Seniors
The ability to judge distances and speed can be compromised with age, which can make driving more dangerous for the visually impaired. Loss of side vision can do much the same. And many of these factors are not measured by a home eye exam.
A professional elderly eye exam can do far more than gauge visual acuity. A complete exam can test pupil response to light, side vision, eye muscle coordination, fluid pressure, and so forth. In other words, a complete exam of all the connecting tissues and blood vessels within the eye.
While home exams are not a substitute for a complete eye exam from a qualified ophthalmologist, they can help you catch problems earlier. Given that generally improves the prognosis of many serious eye disorders, it means regular home exams are almost always a good idea.
At Home Vision Tests for the Elderly
Testing your vision at home only requires a few basic things. You’ll need a 10ft space within a well-lit room, as well as a wall without windows. Additionally, you’ll want a flashlight, some tape, and an adult vision eye testing chart. You can use any vision chart, but when properly reproduced, the largest letter of the chart should be slightly less than 1” tall.
Start by taping the testing chart to the windowless wall. Place it at eye level, relative to the person taking the test. The test taker can either sit or stand, as long as the chart is level with their eyes. Measure to a spot that’s 10ft away from the wall, and take the exam from there.
Next, the person taking the exam should cover one eye. Then you can shine the flashlight on each line of the chart, and ask the test taker to read each letter aloud. Starting from the top row, continue towards the bottom until the letters are too small to identify. Repeat this process for both eyes, and write down the results.
Eye Care Tips for the Elderly
It’s important to see a doctor immediately about any changes in vision. Outside of eye tests at home for the elderly, you can find a variety of regional senior eye care programs. Many offer free comprehensive eye exams for low income seniors.
And in addition to regular exams, one of the best ways to protect your vision is to improve your health. Maintaining a healthy weight, wearing sunglasses outside, quitting smoking, and eating leafy greens can all help prevent vision loss. Even minor lifestyle changes can go a long way towards protecting your sight.