More than 1 in 4 U.S. seniors are living with untreated vision problems that could be putting them in danger.
About 28 percent of people older than 71 are suffering from nearsightedness, farsightedness, or impaired contrast sensitivity, even when wearing their glasses or contact lenses, according to recent research published in JAMA Ophthalmology.
Researchers found that about 22 percent of study participants were farsighted, about 10 percent were nearsighted, and 10 percent had impaired contrast sensitivity (the ability to distinguish an object from its background).
Nearsightedness can require prescription glasses to correct distance vision, and contrast sensitivity is associated with diseases like cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration.
Most cases of nearsightedness, however, can be treated with relatively cheap reading glasses, which are available at pharmacies, discount shops, or grocery stores.
They usually cost around $10 – $15.
Unattended vision problems can impact quality of life, well-being, and independence. They can pose a danger by increasing the risk of a trip and fall, taking the wrong (or too much) medication, or having a severe traffic accident.
Contrast sensitivity can make it hard to drive at night or in rainy conditions, identify steps clearly, and distinguish facial features.
If you can’t see well, you’re not going to see a curb to step up or read what’s on a pill container.
The researchers of the study suggest that most Americans take vision for granted and accept vision problems as a normal part of aging. But they’re not. There is almost always a reason for declining vision, and sometimes it is simple and flexible, like reading glasses.
Besides getting regular vision tests, there are some simple lifestyle measures that you can take to preserve sight as you age. Maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, wearing sunglasses, and exercising regularly can all help reduce the risk of age-related eye disease.