Importance of Protecting your Vision
Vision health is often disregarded with age, but making your eyes a priority is just as important as monitoring your overall health. Maintaining healthy vision is done by wearing the right corrective lens if necessary and going to the optometrist regularly for routine check-ups.
Tips for Healthy Eyes
Maintaining healthy vision requires effort to protect your eyes and prevent future damage. The most obvious way so protect your vision is to avoid direct eye contact with the sun by wearing sunglasses and using protective glasses if working with potentially dangerous substances or materials.
Also, make sure to have routine eye exams. Yearly eye exams are recommended, but as we age, we may want to consider more frequent monitoring. Talk to your optometrist about the frequency and recommended exams for your age. You may also want to become aware of any family history of eye problems to monitor any genetic propensity.
Things that are not normally considered as having an effect on vision are diet, weight, smoking and rest. Eating a diet filled with fruits, vegetables and leafy greens as well as foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, will help protect your eyes. Maintaining a healthy weight will lesson the likelihood of developing diseases, such as diabetes, that can eventually affect your sight. Smoking is linked to an increase of eye diseases, such as the ones described above. If you are a smoker, quitting is the only way to lesson the likelihood of developing one of these diseases. Lastly, make sure your eyes are getting enough rest. Desk jobs can be straining on the eyes. Looking away from the computer screen, or other objects you may be closely focused on during work, for a few moments every hour or so, will lesson tension on the eyes over time.
Effects of Aging on Vision
Listed below are common vision problems experienced as we age.
- Cataracts - More than half of Americans over 80 suffer from cataracts according to the National Eye Institute. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens in the eyes. Images become blurry or foggy for a person suffering from cataracts. Cataracts can occur in one or both eyes simultaneously.
- Glaucoma - A serious issue that, if not detected early, can lead to vision loss. The most common cause of glaucoma is increased eye pressure caused by fluid that naturally flows throughout the eye. When this fluid flow is too slow, pressure builds and damage to the optic nerve occurs. It results in a loss of peripheral vision creating a tunneling effect. If left untreated, Glaucoma can lead to a loss of vision entirely.
- Macular Degeneration - Much like glaucoma and cataracts, macular degeneration is more common as we age. It affects the eyes' ability to focus on centrally located images, the opposite of peripheral vision. There are two forms of macular degeneration. “Wet” macular degeneration is when irregular blood vessels begin to grow under the macula, which is located at the back of the eye in the center of the retina. It is called “wet” because these abnormal blood vessels leak fluid causing rapid damage. “Dry” macular degeneration, the second form of the disease, occurs when the cells in the macula break down causing a slow blurring of vision.