Weaker eyesight is common
When you walk into Marion Senior Center, like other senior centers around the country, it is common for nearly every patron to have a set of glasses.
“I’ve had glasses for about 75 years,” one patron said. “I have astigmatism, and my parents wore glasses. Just something I have to live with.”
According to Zach Unruh, optometrist at Hillsboro Eye Clinic, deteriorating eyesight is common.
“Everyone gets cataracts,” he said. “It’s just something that happens with age.”
Cataracts are a clouding or discoloring of the lens covering the eye. It can be corrected with surgery that restores all the sight lost.
“Probably the most important thing is to get a yearly dilated eye exam,” Unruh said. “Eyesight can change quickly, but a year is a good benchmark.”
For seniors who still don’t need glasses he recommends protecting the eyes by wearing sun glasses outside, eating healthy, and having good lighting when reading.
“There’s not a whole lot someone can do if they already have problems with their eyesight,” Unruh said. “But people can stop their sight from deteriorating more quickly.”
With regular eye checks, eye diseases can be caught, Unruh said.
Virginia Downing of Marion said when her mother had cataracts removed she could see well for a while, but she developed a sight problem that required her to have two different sets of glasses.
“They’re expensive,” Downing said. “I’m not sure why she needed two different sets, but the biggest problem was when she woke up she could never find her glasses.”
Specialized lenses that many seniors wear costs hundreds of dollars and are easy to lose. Unruh said many of the eye problems seniors develop cannot be repaired with laser surgery.
“There’s not a lot that can be done,” Downing said.
Downing’s sister, Marilyn Geis, said she still could see and that’s all she worried about, but she does take precautions to protect her vision, including wearing sunglasses.
“I wear them as often as possible and do all the things they say about lighting,” she said. “The optometrist said the fact that I need glasses is just bad luck.”