The Importance of Eye Health

As individuals age, maintaining good eye health becomes increasingly crucial. The elderly are at a higher risk of developing eye conditions, some of which can severely impact their quality of life.

In this guide, we will explore the importance of vision, discussing common eye diseases that affect the elderly and looking at the causes and treatment. 

Additionally, we will provide practical tips and strategies and explain how Springfield Healthcare supports residents in maintaining optimal eye health.

Common Diseases in the Elderly

As eyes age over time, they become more susceptible to disease and therefore require more care and attention. 

Understanding the various eye conditions that are more likely to develop in the elderly, will prepare you better when preventing further damage of the disease.

In this section, we will look at specific conditions, their symptoms and how to recognise them.


Cataracts, or as they are sometimes known Age-Related Cataracts are when the lens of the eye develops cloudy patches. 

When you are young, the lens is usually clear like glass which allows for good vision. 

However over time, and as people get older they start to cloud, and this as a result limits vision.

Both eyes are usually affected by cataracts, but the development of the disease often varies.

Symptoms of cataracts include eyesight becoming blurred or misty, finding lights too bright or glaring, finding it difficult to see in low light and colours that look faded.


Affecting people of all ages, glaucoma is especially common in people who are in their 70s and 80s.

Generally, the disease takes many years to develop, which means that people may not realise they have it until more noticeable symptoms present themselves. It can be picked up by opticians in routine eye tests.

There are different types of glaucoma, which include:

  • Angle glaucoma – the most common type of glaucoma caused by the drainage channels in the eye becoming gradually clogged over time.
  • Acute angle closure glaucoma – a rarer type that is caused by the drainage channels in the eye suddenly becoming blocked, which can raise the pressure in the eye suddenly.
  • Secondary glaucoma – caused by an underlying eye condition, for example, uveitis.

Glaucoma can be caused by a number of different ways. In most cases, this is from the build-up of pressure when fluid in the eye is unable to flow. 

It isn’t clear why this happens, but factors that can increase the risk include age, ethnicity, family history and other medical conditions. 

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD causes changes to the macula, a tiny part of the retina found at the back of the eye.

It presents itself differently in each person, but generally, AMD makes it harder to see detail such as small print.

When looking straight at something central vision may become blurry or distorted, and in some cases a dark area may appear in the centre of vision.

Although AMD doesn’t cause pain or lead to complete loss of vision, it can cause lasting damage that can affect everyday life.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina.

The disease is caused by high blood sugar levels, and if left untreated over several years it can threaten your sight. 

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes are when the eyes do not produce enough tears or when tears evaporate too quickly. 

Although not as serious as other conditions, it can be irritating and uncomfortable.

Dry eyes are most common in over 50s, and can be treated in several ways including taking breaks from screens and if you are a contact lens wearer by wearing glasses.


Presbyopia is a common age-related change that affects vision, especially of items close up.

A normal part of ageing, symptoms include trouble seeing items up close, eye strains and headaches.

Floaters and Retinal Detachment

Floaters are small spots or shapes that float in a person’s field of vision, while retinal detachment involves the separation of the retina from the back of the eye. 

Although floaters are common in most people, a sign that retinal detachment has occurred is that you have a lot of new floaters, as well as flashes of light in both eyes.

The condition can occur as a result of other conditions like diabetic retinopathy, extreme nearsightedness or through surgery for a condition like cataracts. 

Living with Eye Conditions

Regular Eye Exams

One of the main ways of detecting eye conditions is by having regular eye exams. For people under the age of 65, it is recommended to have an eye exam every 2-3 years, however over 65s should get their eyes tested every year.

Having regular tests improves the likelihood of detecting eye conditions and diseases early, diagnosing and treating the issue and ultimately preventing significant damage. 

Adopting Low Vision Aids

For elderly individuals with visual impairments, various low vision aids and other simple items can improve quality of life.

These can include:

  1. Magnifying Glasses: Handheld devices with a magnifying lens that enlarge text and objects for easier viewing.
  2. Large-Print Books: Specially designed editions with larger text and increased spacing to make reading more comfortable for those with visual impairments.
  3. Electronic Magnifiers: Video magnifiers that utilize cameras and high-resolution screens to display magnified images with adjustable settings for magnification and contrast.
  4. Talking Watches and Clocks: Timepieces that audibly announce the time, providing a convenient way for individuals with visual impairments to stay informed.

Treatments and Surgery

Importance of Regular Eye Examinations

Regular eye examinations are essential for the early detection of eye conditions in the elderly. 

As previously mentioned, it is especially important to have regular eye examinations, as eye conditions can be diagnosed in their early stages, especially with regular checks. 

The examination doesn’t take too long, and involves a general check-up and conversation about vision with a trained optical practitioner.

Lifestyle Factors and Eye Health

Many different lifestyle factors can affect an individual’s eye health, particularly as they get older.

For some with conditions like diabetes, this puts you at a higher risk for specific issues like Retinopathy. Managing the existing condition with insulin and other medication will help reduce risk.

As you age, maintaining a healthy diet is also important in reducing risk in not just your eyes, but for overall health.

Avoiding smoking and also protecting your eyes from harmful UV radiation are also active steps you can make to protect your eyesight.

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is a common procedure performed to address the clouding of the eye’s natural lens, known as cataracts.

During the surgery, the ophthalmologist makes a small incision in the eye and uses ultrasound technology to break up the cloudy lens. 

The fragmented lens is then gently removed, and an artificial intraocular lens (IOL)  is implanted in its place. 

The IOL serves as a permanent replacement for the natural lens and can help improve vision.

Cataract surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis, meaning patients can return home on the same day.

Springfield Healthcare and Eye Health Support

By promoting awareness, regular eye examinations, and implementing practical strategies, Springfield Healthcare aims to empower our residents in safeguarding their eye health and preserving their vision for years to come.

Our care homes provide tailored support for those with low vision. They are equipped with such as magnifying glasses, large-print books, and appropriate lighting to provide low-vision aids for our residents. 

Our compassionate team works closely with residents to adapt daily activities, such as labelling items with large print or arranging essential items within easy reach, enabling them to navigate their living environment more comfortably.

If you would like to explore how a Springfield Healthcare care home can tailor a plan for a loved one, do get in touch with us to find out more.