As I have gotten older, so have my eyes. Yes, that is a truism, but that does not make it unimportant for seniors — and those soon to be seniors.
I have more trouble than many folks, because I am naturally (pre-cataract surgery days) very nearsighted. That means that my eyes are naturally longer than normal. That puts me at much greater risk for things like detached retinas. It also makes me much more susceptible to macular degeneration caused by bleeding into the retina. As one retina specialist told me, you only get so many cells to “wallpaper” the back of the eye, and if they get stretched to much, there can be bleeding.
In my case, there has been bleeding, in both eyes, over the past six or seven years. The first time it happened, in my right eye, I was pumped full of an expensive chemical and got to stare into a laser. Fun. That had to be done several times. This year it happened in my left eye. Advances in medicine meant I got to have a needle poked into my eye once a month for three months. Also really fun. At this point, I do not see straight lines anymore, but at least I see. I am a firm believer that the earth is curved, if not round.
Now, aside from fascinating you with my life story, what is the significance of all this? Really, it is two-fold. The first is that these issues happened after I turned 50. The older I get, the more likely they are to recur and get worse. That fact is another reason why we founded Support For Home In-Home Care. The problems I am having now and will have as I get older are not news to some of our clients. Their desire to live at home is threatened by declining eyesight. Our support of their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) is critical to their success.
There are many excellent sources about macular degeneration on the Web. One such source is Wikipedia. The National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health has excellent information and links.
In my case, I have had good medical insurance and been able to pay for great treatment for my eye problems. For many seniors, that is not the case. One program seniors and family members should check out is EyeCare America. Aside from excellent information, many seniors may qualify for a free eye exam or even up to a year of free care from volunteer ophthalmologists. It is a great program. Check it out and keep an eye on this blog for more information on issues of aging. Sorry for the pun — could not help myself.
Best wishes, Bert