Warning signs of a serious eye problem
Eyes aren’t exempt from the wear and tear of aging. Some of the age-related changes in the eyes are annoying but not serious — for example, it can become difficult to focus on near objects, and eyelashes may thin out a bit. But other changes can be serious eye problems that threaten vision.
With age, the eyes’ ability to stay lubricated starts to wane. This can leave eyes feeling irritated, sticky, dry, or gritty. The lens of the eye can become less elastic. Night vision may also start to suffer, which can pose problems when driving at night. In contrast, cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy can rob you of your sight.
How do you know if an eye problem is a nuisance or the start of something serious? The following signs and symptoms warrant a call to your doctor. Catching serious eye problems early can help preserve your vision. Even non-vision-threatening eye problems can be treated to keep your eyes comfortable and your eyesight as sharp as possible.
Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Change in iris color
- Crossed eyes
- Dark spot in the center of your field of vision
- Difficulty focusing on near or distant objects
- Double vision
- Dry eyes with itching or burning
- Episodes of cloudy vision
- Excess discharge or tearing
- Eye pain
Signs you might need glasses
Do you have a vision problem that could be corrected?
About 11 million people over age 12 need vision correction.1 How do you know if you need it?
Many people have lived with poor vision for such a long time, they simply don’t realize they could benefit from or see better with vision correction. Others might be aware they have a vision problem but put off going to the eye doctor until it’s a struggle to perform everyday functions. The fact is you should see your eye doctor as soon as you notice your changes in your eyesight.
As soon as you notice your eyesight is changing, it’s time to see your eye doctor
Following 10 signs you might need an eye exam.
- Blurred close-up vision, may indicate farsightedness (hyperopia) or presbyopia, depending on your age
- Poor distance vision, or nearsightedness (myopia)
- Difficulty seeing objects both close up and at a distance (astigmatism)
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Increased difficulty adjusting from dark to light surroundings
- Difficulty in reading or working at a computer
- Eye strain or eye fatigue
- Frequent headaches
- Double vision
- Seeing halos around light
Preventive Eye Care and Eye Examinations Are Important
Just as with annual physical examinations, it’s equally important to have regular eye examinations. An annual eye examination is appropriate for most people.
If you have glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, or a family history of eye diseases or disorders, regular monitoring and more frequent visits may be required.
It’s important to discuss your health care situation with your primary care doctor and your eye doctor and make sure you follow his or her advice about ongoing appointments, medications, and/or treatments. Prevention is an important component of eye care.
Some eye conditions and diseases are hereditary and family members may need to be monitored regularly by a general physician and an ophthalmologist or optometrist.
Other Indicators of Possible Vision Problems
Other indications of possible vision problems may include problems with the following daily living activities:
- Having difficulty walking on irregular or bumpy surfaces
- Walking or stepping hesitantly
- Going up and down stairs slowly and cautiously
- Shuffling the feet
- Brushing against walls while walking
- Missing objects by under-reaching or over-reaching
- Discontinuing or doing certain activities differently such as reading, watching television, driving, walking, or engaging in hobbies
- Squinting or tilting the head to the side to focus on an object
- Having difficulty identifying faces or objects
- Having trouble locating personal objects, even in a familiar environment
- Reaching out for objects in an uncertain manner
- Having trouble identifying colors
- Selecting clothing in unusual combinations of colors or patterns
Eating and Drinking
- Having problems getting food onto a fork
- Having difficulty cutting food or serving from a serving dish
- Spilling food off the plate while eating
- Pouring liquids over the top of a cup or drinking glass
- Knocking over glasses while reaching across the table for another item
Reading and Writing
- No longer reading mail, newspapers, or books
- Holding reading material very close to the face or at an angle
- Writing less clearly and having trouble writing on a line
- Finding that lighting that was previously sufficient is now inadequate for reading and other activities