Seniors                       

Common Eye Problems
Falls Prevention
Eye Infections, Injuries & Monitoring Eye Disease
Protecting Your Eyes From The Sun

As we age the risks to our vision increase. The statistics are clear: by age 65, 1 in 9 Canadians develop irreversible vision loss and by age 75 this increases to 1 in 4. Expert vision care and regular eye exams are the best way to minimize these risks, reduce negative impacts and preserve seniors quality of life.

Why an annual eye exam?

Early detection is key. Many common eye diseases have no early signs or symptoms. Annual comprehensive eye exams can detect and provide the ability to manage eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration, plus uncover other potentially serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Maintaining eye health and proper vision is critical to healthy aging. Vision loss or impairment can seriously impact daily living – greatly increasing the risk of problems like fractures and falls – the leading cause of injuries among seniors and a major threat to their well-being and independence.

Alberta Health* covers the cost of annual eye exams for Albertans 65+.

Common Eye Problems The most common eye problems experienced by seniors include:

Cataracts exist when the normally clear lens within your eye becomes cloudy and opaque.  Cataracts are a function of aging and are most often found in people over the age of 60, although they are occasionally found in younger people, including newborns.
Diabetes and its complications can affect many parts of the eye, and can cause changes in vision. Detection during an eye exam is often the first indication that a person may have the disease, or that a person with diabetes does not have adequate blood sugar control.  The most serious eye problem associated with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy.
Macular degeneration affects the macula­–the central most part of the retina.  It causes the centre of your vision to blur or distort while the side or peripheral vision remains unaffected.  It is generally related to the aging process, and is the leading cause of blindness in North American adults over the age of 55.  While there is no cure, early detection and prevention measures can delay or reduce vision loss.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in Canada.  It is a progressive disease that most frequently occurs in individuals over the age of 40, with the risk of the disease increasing with age.  There is a greater risk of developing glaucoma for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, a history of eye injuries or a family history of glaucoma.
Presbyopia is a natural effect of aging, usually occurring after the age of 40, in which the ability to focus on close objects decreases over time.  It can cause headaches, blurred vision, tired eyes and the need for more light. This can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.
Falls Prevention

Falls are the leading cause of serious injuries among seniors, and seniors with low vision are more than twice as likely to fall.  This is why it’s important to visit a doctor of optometry annually for an eye exam. Alberta Health* covers the cost of annual eye exams for Albertans 65+.   

As most people age, their vision needs change. Some changes that you may notice include:

•    Identifying objects is more challenging, especially at night.
•    Judging distance is more difficult.
•    Everyday tasks like reading take more effort or require glasses.
•    Colours are less bright and the contrast between colours is less noticeable.
•    Visual fields begin to narrow, which may lead to challenges with driving.
•    Fewer tears are produced, leading to burning or stinging dry eyes.

Here are some actions you can take to improve and protect your vision and prevent falls:
•    Use high wattage light bulbs.
•    Use nightlights or motion sensors in the bathroom and hallways.
•    Wear sunglasses, even in the winter.
•    Mark the edge of stairs with coloured paint or treads.
•    Keep the lighting similar in every room.
•    Speak with your doctor of optometry about multifocal lenses

Discuss any changes to your eyes or vision with your optometrist
. Getting expert care from a doctor of optometry is crucial for preserving sight, preventing falls and protecting overall health.

Eye Infections, Injuries & Monitoring Eye Disease

All Albertans are covered by Alberta Health* for medically necessary and urgent care visits to their doctor of optometry.  They have the proper knowledge, tools and equipment necessary to diagnose, treat or refer to a specialist, if needed.  This includes things, such as:

  • eye infections or injuries
  • foreign objects in the eyes
  • sudden changes in vision
  • monitoring for diabetes issues, glaucoma and retinal disease
  • post-operative care for cataract patients

You do not need a referral, and most clinics keep a few daily appointments available for these services.

Protecting Your Eyes from the Sun

Protecting your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is just as important as putting on sunscreen to protect your skin, and it is an issue through every season of the year.  The glare from snow can be just as harmful as the glare from water.  Many age-related eye diseases may be partially caused by UV exposure throughout your life. 

Speak to your doctor of optometry about your best options.  In addition to appropriate sunglasses, wearing a wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap can provide further protection.


*Check with your doctor of optometry prior to your appointment to determine if there are any additional costs.

*Check with your doctor of optometry prior to your appointment to determine if there are any additional costs.
*Check with your doctor of optometry prior to your appointment to determine if there are any additional costs.