JCI Gardens is a senior living apartment with over 100 units that is walking distance from Clear Choice Optometry. The other day I was contacted by their Program Director, Jamie Cho, who asked if I would speak to their residents about eye problems that seniors face. I used to do this type of speaking earlier in my career and I had always found it gratifying to be able to spread some knowledge and help where I could. I agreed, and the event occurred this past Tuesday.

There was a nice crowd of about 30 seniors. The talk centered around 4 of the most common conditions that occur later in life: cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. These are maladies that we see daily at Clear Choice Optometry. I gave a brief overview of all four with an explanation of symptoms, causes and treatments. During the Q and A, I was surprised by the lively discussion. Many residents were concerned and a little confused regarding their unique situation and the medications they were taking. They did not know why they were taking certain medications or what was wrong with their eyes. Some were wearing glasses but felt like the glasses they had were not doing a good job.

Their confusion was a reminder to me that many problems of this type start with the doctor not clearly communicating what is wrong, what needs to be done and why all this is happening. If a patient does not understand the doctor’s explanation, I feel that the onus is on the doctor to give a clearer explanation. Often doctors will speak in technical medical jargon or talk very fast. Neither will promote patient understanding. I always strive to speak in plain English at a pace patients can understand. This is especially important for seniors who can have hearing difficulties along with memory issues.

Overall, the experience was a positive one for me, and judging by the interest of the audience, it was positive for them as well. I do want to acknowledge Jamie who did a fantastic job in translation as did another staffer, Setsuo. Without their help many of the audience would not have come. My best wishes to all the fine seniors at JCI Gardens and best wishes to seniors struggling with the complexities of their medical conditions.