As we age, our bodies change and our eyes are no exception. While some changes are normal, others can be signs of eye disease. The good news is that there are steps you can take to protect your vision as you age. Read on, as we discuss the most common eye diseases in adults and elders, and provide tips on how to effectively minimize the risks.
In this article:
3.4. Diabetic Retinopathy
Common Changes in Vision in Older Adults
Many changes could happen to your vision with aging. Some of the most common aging indicators you may notice about your eyes include:
Near vision loss (inability to see up close)
Trouble adjusting to brightness and light changes
Color perception problems, such as telling certain colors apart
Reduced contrast sensitivity
In many cases, there are simple solutions to these aging eyesight problems. Contact lenses, glasses, and certain light adjustments may provide the relief you are looking for and make it possible for you to carry on living independently, without hassle or discomfort.
However, please note that with aging, you are also getting predisposed to some serious eye diseases, so you should not underestimate or undermine the risks. The best way to keep your eyes healthy is to pay regular visits to your eye doctor for comprehensive eye examinations.
Medical professionals are able to identify existing and potential issues with your eyes and vision early on. That makes it easier to administer the proper treatments or to take precautions on time.
Regular Eye Exams Are Good for You
Preventing vision loss and protecting your eyes begins with diagnosing and treating any problems as early as possible. Unfortunately, it is common for early-stage eye diseases to go undetected. And the only way to ensure you catch any eye-related issues and complications on time is to pay a regular visit to the eye doctor's office for screening and eye exams.
Before your appointment with an ophthalmology specialist, write down your questions and concerns so that you can discuss them together. In addition, make sure to inform your eye doctor about any medication you are currently on, as some meds might impact your eyes.
Regular eye exams are crucial in detecting common eye diseases early on and preventing vision loss. People over 50 should have these exams annually or at the recommendation of their eye care professional, and those over 60 should have them every one to two years. Patients with diabetes or high blood pressure should opt for a dilated exam at least once a year, even if it is well managed. The idea is to detect early changes, monitor them, and intervene when necessary.
The exam involves checking your best corrected visual acuity, measuring your intraocular pressure, the use of eye drops to dilate your pupils, and examining the eye structures using magnification lenses for any issues. It's also important to regularly check and update prescriptions for glasses or contacts. Aside from that, it's important to see a primary healthcare provider or physician to monitor and treat conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure that can cause eye problems if left unchecked.
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Eye Diseases That Occur While Aging
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
According to the CDC, AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in adults over the age of 65. This disease damages the macula, which is the central part of the retina that is responsible for sharp, central vision. The best way to minimize the risk of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, not smoking, and getting regular exercise.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. This condition is very common in older adults and typically results from aging, genetics, smoking, and other environmental factors. To reduce the risk of cataracts, protect your eyes from the sun with sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) rays and avoid smoking.
Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. This condition is often associated with increased pressure in the eye, but can also occur with normal eye pressure. One of the most effective ways to minimize the risk of glaucoma is to have regular comprehensive eye exams and follow the recommended treatment plan if diagnosed.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the blood vessels in the retina. It is the leading cause of blindness in adults between the ages of 20 and 74. In order to reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy, it is necessary to manage blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol, as well as maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Tips for Protecting Your Vision When Aging
Schedule regular comprehensive eye exams with your eye doctor.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and not smoking.
Protect your eyes from the sun with sunglasses that block UV rays.
Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing other activities that could cause eye injury.
Know your family history of eye disease and share that information with your eye doctor.
Follow the recommended treatment plan if diagnosed with an eye disease.
Protecting your vision when aging requires a combination of a healthy lifestyle and regular comprehensive eye exams. By following the tips mentioned in this article, you can reduce the risk of developing common eye diseases and maintain your vision as you age.
More Tips for Healthy Eyes
In order to ensure that your eyes remain healthy as you age, there are several things you can do to protect them and maintain their health:
Wear a broad-brimmed hat when outside
Wear sunglasses with UV protection when outside
Keep your blood pressure under control
Take regular screen breaks, according to the 20-20-20 rule (if you spend long periods of time on a computer or other digital device)
Engage in physical activity
Maintain a healthy diet
For more articles and tips about eye health and eye care, check out our blog section for patients.
All medical facts were checked by Atanas Bogoev M.D.