Health Topics

Eye Problems in Older Individuals

Eye Problems in Older Individuals

Eye Diseases and Disorders Common in Aging Adults

Even though eye problems can affect people of any age, some are increasingly likely to strike those of advanced age. These problems can be much more serious. Some examples of eye diseases and disorders common in aging adults:


  • Cataracts are cloudy areas that cover part of or the entire lens that keep light from easily passing through the lens to the back of the eye. Cataracts often form slowly, causing no pain, redness or tearing in the eye. Cataract surgery is very safe and is one of the most common surgeries done in the United States.


  • Glaucoma is often related to increased pressure inside the eye. If it is not treated early, this condition can lead to permanent vision loss and blindness. To detect glaucoma, the eye doctor will examine your eyes through dilated pupils.

Retinal Disorders

  • Retinal disorders are a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Retinal disorders interrupt the transfer of images from the eye to the brain. They include age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and retinal detachment.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

  • The macula is the small central portion of the retina containing millions of nerve cells that are sensitive to light. AMD is characterized by the loss of cells in this area causing blurred central vision.

Diabetic Retinopathy

  • This disorder is a complication of diabetes. It occurs when small blood vessels stop feeding the retina properly. As the disease advances, you may notice floaters, blind spots or cloudiness of vision. New blood vessels may grow and bleed into the center of the eye, causing serious vision loss or blindness.

Retinal Detachment

  • Retinal detachment occurs when the inner and outer layers of the retina become separated. Symptoms of retinal detachment include: a sudden appearance of spots or flashes of light; vision that appears wavy, as if you were under water; and a dark shadow anywhere in your field of vision.


  • Conjunctivitis happens when the tissue that lines the eyelids and covers the sclera becomes inflamed. It is sometimes called "pink eye" or "red eye." It can cause redness, itching, burning, tearing or a feeling of something in the eye.

Corneal Diseases

  • Corneal diseases and conditions can cause redness, watery eyes, pain, reduced vision or a halo effect.

Eyelid Problems

  • Eyelid problems can be the result of different diseases or conditions. Pain, itching, tearing and sensitivity to light are common symptoms of eyelid problems.

Temporal Arteritis

  • Temporal arteritis causes the arteries in the temple area of the forehead, as well as other areas of the body, to become inflamed and possibly obstructed. It can begin with a severe headache, pain when chewing, and tenderness in the temple area. Patients may have a chronic fever, shoulder or hip weakness and scalp tenderness. It may be followed by sudden vision loss, which is permanent. People with any of these symptoms should see their physician.