Healthy Aging and Your Eyes: Here’s What You Need to Know
September is Healthy Aging Month, which serves as a helpful reminder to take care of your eyes as you get older.
Aging can be intimidating — our bodies undergo major changes that are sometimes impossible to predict. But that doesn’t mean the process has to be difficult. There are plenty of ways you can mitigate the toll that aging takes on your body if you stay informed and proactive about your health.
A common change that takes place as we age is vision loss. There’s nothing unusual or scary about this, but it’s important to understand the different types of eye conditions that may emerge if you want to take the right precautions.
In honor of Healthy Aging Month, here are some common eye problems older adults may face, as well as effective prevention and treatment options.
Cataracts are the most common age-related eye condition, caused by a clouding of the lenses in your eyes. If you think you may have cataracts, there’s no need for alarm — over half of Americans get them sometime in their lives. Most instances of cataracts are age-related, but it’s not uncommon for younger adults and even children to get cataracts, especially if they’re nearsighted.
Cataracts are virtually harmless to your overall health, unless complications arise from serious vision problems. When you get cataracts, you may experience dull and blurry vision, muted colors, and fuzziness around lights. Fortunately, cataracts are easily fixable, and they can usually be corrected with special prescription glasses. If your cataracts are interfering with your ability to function, ask your doctor if you need cataract surgery — a common procedure where the cataract is removed and replaced with an artificial lens.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition that millions of Americans experience. AMD affects your central vision, which impairs your ability to see both close up and far away. People rarely go blind from AMD, but it’s important to consult your eye doctor if you begin to experience symptoms.
Though there is no cure, taking vitamins like AREDS (available over the counter) can slow the disease’s progression. The most common type of AMD — dry AMD — comes on slowly and is generally harmless. A less common variety is wet AMD, which can cause sudden dark spots in your vision. If you suspect you have wet AMD, consult your doctor immediately — eye surgery or injections can be necessary to keep the condition at bay.
Glaucoma is the result of high fluid pressure on the optic nerve, and it can irreversibly damage the nerve if left untreated. In the most severe cases, glaucoma can cause blindness. There’s no known cure for the condition, but early-stage glaucoma can be diagnosed with regular eye exams, and the disease can be stymied with early intervention.
If you’re over the age of 40, you should make regular visits to the eye doctor to ensure you aren’t experiencing early-stage glaucoma. High risk for glaucoma is genetic, so you should be especially vigilant if anyone in your family has been diagnosed.
Keeping Your Eyes Healthy
Impaired vision is a normal consequence of aging, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. Healthy lifestyle choices can go a long way in preventing age-related eye conditions. For instance, make sure to put on sunglasses with full UV protection next time you’re out on a sunny day. Additionally, you should avoid smoking, control your blood pressure, and try your best to engage in regular physical activity.
For age-related eye conditions, early detection is key to a quick recovery. The most essential step you should take towards early detection is to check in with your eye doctor regularly. Kleiman Evangelista offers friendly, well-qualified optometrists who perform checkups and surgery in several locations throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and Northeast Texas. For any of your vision concerns, we invite you to schedule an appointment.
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