Protecting your vision and preventing vision loss is an important part of your overall wellness as you age. A common misconception is that vision loss is a normal part of getting older. That’s not entirely accurate. As we age, the risk increases of developing eye diseases and conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, or glaucoma. With regular eye exams, these diseases and conditions can be caught and treated in their early stages, which reduces the potential for permanent vision loss and blindness.
Retaining good vision starts with preventive care. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults get a complete eye examination at age 40 to establish a baseline, if you haven’t already been seeing an eye care professional regularly. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of eye disease, don’t wait to get your eyes checked. Many age-related eye diseases don’t have warning signs or early symptoms, but can be detected during a comprehensive exam when eyes are dilated. Beginning at age 60, experts recommend an exam at least every one to two years.
Healthy lifestyle habits benefit your eyes. Following a healthful routine for your overall wellness is also great for your eyes. Eat a balanced diet that includes foods rich in antioxidants, such as dark, leafy greens and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. Exercise regularly to improve blood circulation, which increases oxygen levels in the eyes. Maintain a healthy weight to keep diabetes under control. Stop smoking. Use protective eyewear to prevent injuries, especially when working on projects around your home which are the cause of more than 40 percent of eye injuries. When enjoying the outdoors, always wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to block harmful ultraviolet rays.
Some changes to your vision as you age should be expected, but don’t assume all vision loss is caused by getting older. Take steps to preserve your sight and reduce your risk of age-related eye diseases and conditions so you can see well for your lifetime.
For Additional Information
National Eye Institute – www.nei.nih.gov
American Academy of Ophthalmology – www.aao.org
American Optometric Association – www.aoa.org