For Healthy Aging Month, here are some of the vision health issues that can occur as we get older, followed by preventive steps and action items.
A cataract is a clouding on the lens of your eye. The cloudiness prevents light from entering the eye. Cataracts can cause blurred vision or complete vision loss. There are also different types of cataracts such as congenital, traumatic and secondary. Age-related cataracts are the most common and usually develop after age 40.
The lenses of your eyes starts to change as you age, causing blurriness and trouble focusing.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
AMD is brought on by age, and mostly affects those who are 60 or older. It causes loss in the center of field of vision.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that can lead to permanent vision loss. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), it’s one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma is easy to detect, but can occur without symptoms. That means you need to visit your eye doctor.
Here’s what to do
A good place to start is visiting your eye doctor, getting a comprehensive eye exam and finding out more information.
Visit your vision provider annually
Because, as we age, we need to be concerned with more than just vision impairment. There are other health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers, that your vision provider can detect during a comprehensive eye exam.
The National Eye Institute states that vision loss and blindness are “not a normal part of aging” but some changes like losing focus, trouble distinguishing some colors and needing more light to see are common. But keep in mind, these vision changes “can often be corrected.” Visit your vision provider every one to two years.
We should always be aware of the damage UV rays can cause to our vision. Protecting our eyes from the sun is important for all age groups, and putting on your shades every time you step outside is a good habit to have. The long-term exposure to UV rays can increase your risk for cataracts when you get older.
Make healthy choices…
And this isn’t just eating more fruits and vegetables. Making healthy choices also means quitting smoking and keeping normal blood pressure and maintaining good cholesterol and glucose levels. Throw in 30 minutes of exercise daily, and your healthy choices are complete to benefit your vision health.
Quitting smoking will also lower your risk for eye diseases like AMD and cataracts. Maintaining a healthy weight to lower your risk of developing diabetes is important because this condition can damage your eyes and potentially lead to vision loss. High blood pressure is also a condition that can damage your eyes.
Knowing and being aware of any symptoms of vision loss will help you take the necessary step of visiting your vision provider and getting an eye exam. Look for any changes while reading, driving, or watching TV. Look for any changes with your loved ones like squinting or bumping into things. Knowing risk factors and your family history is an important part of your healthy aging process.