Aging and Vision
Aging is inevitable, and as the Baby Boomers move into their golden years, their vision may become impaired. More Americans than ever are on the far side of 65 and seeking supplemental vision insurance to complement their Medicare Advantage plan. Vision loss among older adults is a medical problem that often does not receive the attention it needs. The risk of severe eye problems increases significantly after the age of 65. In fact, approximately 1 in 28 U.S. adults over 40 is visually impaired. That number may seem high, but it’s going to get higher; the number of adults with vision loss is expected to grow significantly as our population ages.
Because of these projections, the demand for supplemental vision insurance is growing. In fact, 58% of Americans with private health insurance report having optional vision insurance. Why are so many people prioritizing vision insurance? Well, if you take steps to protect your eyes before you think you need to, you’ll be prepared for the changes that will begin to occur with age.
Why should you consider supplemental vision insurance? Let’s take a detailed look.
Why Vision Changes
Our eyes see light when it passes through the transparent cornea and the pupil. It is then focused by a lens onto the retina, which converts the light into a nerve signal that the brain can process. All of these structures change as part of the aging process, each in its own way. And these changes can affect our vision. For example, weakened eye muscles can focus and narrow your field of vision. Sometimes, partial color blindness can even set in.
These are common conditions, and generally are at least partially treatable. However, there are some more serious problems that can affect vision. According to the Special Report on Aging and Vision Loss published by the American Federation for the Blind, some of the most prominent issues are cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.
- Cataracts: Cataracts occur when cloudy areas develop on the lens of the eye, obstructing light and keeping it from passing through to the retina. This can result in blurry spots or partial to full blindness. Cataracts often form slowly, sometimes remaining small and not presenting any complications for quite some time. When cataracts become more serious, they can usually be treated surgically.
- Corneal Disease: The cornea is the clear dome-shaped structure covering the visible part of the eye. Any number of conditions can affect the cornea, from disease or infection to injury and trauma. The treatments are just as varied as the causes, ranging from medicated eye drops to glasses to surgery. A qualified medical professional can advise you on how best to proceed.
- Retina Problems and Disease: The retina converts light into the nervous impulses sent to the brain, and it is especially susceptible to serious problems. These include age-related macular degeneration, the deterioration of the central portion of the retina; retinopathy, damage to the blood vessels in the retina, which may have a number of causes; and a detached retina, when the retina separates from the tissues around it.
- Glaucoma: Glaucoma is caused by an increase in the fluid pressure within the eye. This is generally a result of a blockage in the fluid flow between the cornea and the lens. If left untreated, permanent vision damage or even blindness may result. Glaucoma rarely presents pain or early symptoms, so it is important to have your eyes examined by an eye doctor regularly. If detected, a number of treatments are available depending on how far the glaucoma has progressed. These may range from medications to surgery.
Supplemental Vision Insurance
This information may sound alarming, if not downright scary. Fortunately, medicine has made huge progress in recent years, and these conditions are often treatable. If you know what you’re looking for, you can learn to spot the symptoms of vision problems early. However, many signs are undetectable to the naked eye. As you age, regular eye exams become even more important; if you don’t already have an eye doctor, your primary care physician or your insurance provider can refer you to one.
To make sure you’ve got appropriate coverage for that doctor’s visit, think about supplemental vision coverage in addition to your Medicare. You can purchase this supplemental insurance at any time, not just during your Open Enrollment Period, so there’s no reason to delay.
Take the first step towards protecting and maintaining good vision as you get older. Find your supplemental vision insurance through HealthMarkets Insurance Agency. We’re here to help you make guided decisions for your insurance needs. With over 3,000 licensed agents, HealthMarkets offers plans from a range of insurance companies nationwide, many of which offer supplemental vision insurance. We can find a plan that’s right for you.
Your golden years should be the best time of your life — the exclamation point at the end of the adventure. Paired with the right Medicare Advantage plan, the right supplemental vision insurance will help make sure you can see the beauty of them.