Consider yourself lucky if you’ve managed to cruise through your life without having any vision troubles and the need for glasses or contacts.
Unfortunately, good eye health in your younger years does not guarantee healthy vision as you age — there are many vision problems that can set in with age and that’s why it is important to focus on your eye health just like you prioritize other health conditions.
Seniors Should Focus on Their Eye Health
Statistics show that nearly 40 million people of the U.S. population are aged 65 or older and by 2050, this number is expected to reach 88 million. With that, the number of people dealing with bad vision might triple and those with age-related vision issues might double.
While most seniors focus on health conditions like heart ailments and diabetes, some forget to focus on their eyes. Many even remain unaware of minor changes in vision because they neglect to visit their ophthalmologist and often find issues when they are irreversible.
It is also important to understand that changes in vision occur not only due to aging but also because of certain conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes, which can lead to cataract and even loss of vision if left untreated.
Because vision is such an important aspect of our well-being, it is essential to pay it a little more attention. Common vision problems that accompany the aging process include reduced sensitivity to light, difficulty in recognizing colors, inability to see well in the dark and difficulty seeing objects that are very near.
While most of these issues may be correctable with glasses and better lighting, they do need to be diagnosed, to begin with.
Some common age-related vision problems include:
Caused by constant damage to the blood vessels in the retina, diabetic retinopathy is induced by diabetes. The severity and extent of the condition depend on how well the individual’s blood sugar levels are controlled and in severe cases, it can lead to complete blindness.
This condition may not show any symptoms for a long time, so it is imperative to be regular with eye exams. It might be more prevalent in people with a family history of the condition and studies also show that seniors and people of African-American descent might be at a higher risk.
Characterized by a separation of the retina, this condition occurs mainly because of changes to the gel-like substance in the back of the eyes. It may also be caused by severe or uncontrolled diabetes, eye disorders and a trauma to the head.
The most common symptom of a cataract is a cloudy film that forms over the lens, sometimes serious enough to distort vision. Though they tend to develop in both eyes, it may not happen simultaneously and can often be treated with a simple, non-invasive surgery.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
Affecting the central area of the retina, AMD can impact basic activities like reading, driving and even recognizing people. Though the condition can impact central vision, it does not alter peripheral vision.
Tips to Prevent or Slow Down Vision Loss
If you’ve been good about eating your carrots and leafy vegetables that provide vitamin A, your eye health may be better than those who neglected their vitamin intake.
Follow these habits to protect your vision and possibly slow down age-related degeneration:
- Avoid smoking
- Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight
- Stick to a balanced diet that contains foods rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids
- Keep your blood sugar levels under control
- Protect your eyes from harmful rays
- Be aware of family history and discuss it with your doctor
If you or someone you know is in their 60s and has not been to an eye doctor in a few years, make that appointment right away and remember to follow up annually to keep a constant check on your vision.
Helping Older Adults See Well For a Lifetime (https://nei.nih.gov/sites/default/files/health-pdfs/v_a_factsheet_health_care_providers.pdf). Retrieved from https://nei.nih.gov/sites/default/files/health-pdfs/V_A_Factsheet_Health_Care_Providers.pdf
Adult Vision: Over 60 Years of Age. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/good-vision-throughout-life/adult-vision-19-to-40-years-of-age/adult-vision-over-60-years-of-age