Check-ups: Encouraging Your Parents to Have Regular Tests

With vision problems like age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema, early detection is key to successful treatment and can slow down or even halt further sight loss. So being aware of ageing parents who notice or show signs of vision deterioration is vital and there are many practical ways in which you can support them.

Check-ups: Encouraging Your Parents to Have Regular Tests Image

Emily Chapman first realized that her mum’s sight was suffering two years ago, when they were out shopping together. “She bumped into a few clothes’ rails and she spent ages trying to decipher which bank card she was to use,” explains Emily. “I thought she was being a bit clumsy or absent-minded, until it dawned on me that she might have been having trouble seeing.”

While it isn’t always easy to broach a subject like vision problems, due to the uncertainties and fears your parent may have, there are signs to be aware of and ways to confront the issue. “Mum is so independent and headstrong, I knew she would be taken aback when I asked her if she’d noticed changes in her sight. So I asked a few general questions, before describing what I’d noticed and how I was worried for her” explained Emily.

Symptoms of retinal problems

“Symptoms of vision problems include patches of vision loss, with colors seeming washed out, straight lines appearing kinked, distorted or crooked, together with blurry vision and seeing spots,” Mr Simon Kelly, an ophthalmologist from the UK states in his experience. “If you or your relative experience these symptoms, consider booking an appointment with an optometrist or getting referred to an ophthalmologist.”

There are a variety of options for treatments so reading up and educating yourself with knowledge on these treatments will help when your parent is faced with the choices ahead of them. Suggest your parent has regular eye exams, especially if they have diabetes, and explain how important an early diagnosis is.

Gentle persuasion

Persuading a reluctant parent to have an eye exam is never easy, but there are ways in which you can offer encouragement and support.

Being armed with knowledge of the treatments and eye testing techniques will take the mystery out of the appointment and help you and your parent relax. “If the ophthalmologist does find issues that need further checking, your parent will need your support even more, so be prepared to see it through.”

Emily ended up going to the eye exam with her mum to the appointment. “I wanted to make sure the ophthalmologist answered all the questions we had,” says Emily. “After the consultation, Mum was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration. We went and had a coffee together to talk it all through and make the right choice for her treatment.”

Resources:

NHS – Why are eye tests important? [UK]

Reducing your risk of DME [US]

Macular Degeneration New Zealand

Macular Disease Foundation Australia