Did you know that 1 in 6 Americans over the age of 65 struggle with a vision impairment that cannot be corrected with prescription eyewear? Though vision impairments can occur at any age, as we get older, our risk for vision loss increases as we age, and certain conditions are more common in older adults. September is Healthy Aging Month and during the month we’d like to focus on a few healthy practices to help you preserve your vision as you age.
How Aging Affects Your Vision
When we think of aging and our eyes, wrinkles, dark circles, and bags under the eyes may be what we think of first. However, as we age, our risk for age-related eye conditions increases, so it is important to be aware of factors that can impact your vision.
Common age-related eye conditions can include:
- Age-Related Macular Degeneration
- Diabetic Retinopathy
- Dry Eyes
Maintaining Your Vision
Slight loss of focus, difficulty distinguishing colors, and the need for more light to see are normal vision changes that occur during aging and can be corrected with prescription eyewear and additional lighting. Vision loss and blindness are not normal parts of aging. T
o preserve your visual health as you age, follow these recommendations.
A well-balanced diet is important to any healthy lifestyle but can also be beneficial for your eyes. Dark leafy greens and vibrant colorful vegetables and fruit are full of vitamins and minerals that can help keep your vision clear and strong. We also recommend healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids found commonly in oily fish, walnuts, avocados, navy beans, and flax seeds.
By being active regularly you can work to maintain a steady and healthy weight. Excess weight can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes that may lead to diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, or vision loss.
Get Your Eyes Examined Annually
We recommend having a comprehensive dilated eye exam once a year or at least every 2 years so our doctors can monitor your visual health. By attending these exams regularly, we can detect eye diseases and conditions early and check for other potential health concerns. An early diagnosis allows for early treatment which can prevent or slow damage and help you to maintain your vision and quality of life.
Know Your Risk Factors
It is important to be aware of your risk factors. As you get older, you are at higher risk for age-related medical conditions, but family history, general health, lifestyle choices, and prior trauma may put you at risk for developing certain visual conditions as well.
Protect Your Eyes
Harsh UV rays can be the big factor when it comes to your eyes aging prematurely. Even if you won’t be outside long, if the sun is out, remember to protect your eyes with sunglasses that protect against UV-A and UV-B rays. Consider also wearing a wide-brimmed hat for additional
In this digital age, we spend a lot of our time looking at screens. Give your eyes a break to prevent tired, dry eyes by practicing the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes shift your gaze to an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
If an ocular injury is possible during your activities, remember to wear protective eyewear such as goggles, safety glasses, eye guards, and face shields.
Many patients wait until something is visibly wrong or significantly concerning before contacting our office. If you notice any changes in your vision, even if you think they are slight changes, please speak with your optometrist. Routine eye exams and a proactive mentality are the best lines of defense for protecting and preserving your vision. For more information on how to have healthy eyes as you age or to schedule an appointment, contact Optik Birmingham today.