It’s no secret that each year we grow older! September is Healthy Aging Month, an inspiration for those over the age of 45 to improve their physical, mental, and social well beings as a way to get the most enjoyment out of life. In this article, we will discuss the importance of getting regular comprehensive eye exams and general tips to keep your eyes healthy.
When we age, our eyes and vision gradually begin to weaken. This usually means wearing glasses or using brighter lights to see better and avoid accidents. Beyond short-term measures, it is essential to get regular comprehensive eye exams to screen for age-related eye diseases. One should see an optometrist at age 40 to develop an eye health benchmark, which tracks any eye or vision changes in the future. Those with diabetes or a family history of eye disease should receive an eye exam at least once a year. Many eye diseases are asymptomatic until the late stages of the disease. Getting regular comprehensive eye exams is the best way to detect eye disease. Early discovery of eye disease will ensure better treatment outcomes, as vision loss is permanent.
Some common age-related eye diseases include:
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – AMD is an eye disease that can blur your central vision. AMD happens when your macula, the part of the eye responsible for straight-ahead vision, is damaged due to aging.
- Diabetic retinopathy – Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that causes vision loss and blindness in people with diabetes. Vision loss is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina.
- Cataracts – A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye. Most cataracts develop with age, but they can also occur due to other reasons, such as eye injury or surgery.
- Glaucoma – Glaucoma is a family of eye diseases that can cause blindness due to damage to the optical nerve. The damage is caused by a buildup of pressure in the eye.
- Dry eye – Dry eye occurs when your eyes either do not produce enough tears or there is a problem with tear production. The risk of dry eye increases as you age.
- Low vision – Low vision refers to a vision problem that interferes with everyday activities, such as reading, driving, or recognizing other people’s faces.
Besides receiving regular comprehensive eye exams, there are other lifestyle choices one should make to ensure their eyes remain healthy. Some of these choices include:
- Not smoking – Current and former smokers have a much greater chance of developing age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Putting on extra weight increases the chances of developing cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
- Using sunglasses – Exposure to ultraviolet light increases the chances of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Be physically active – Those that participate in regular physical activity experienced less vision loss than those who weren’t physically active.