September is Healthy Aging Month, a time to focus on the many ways we can stay healthy as we age. This year, let’s make sure to include our eyes in that conversation. Getting regular comprehensive eye exams is critical for keeping our vision sharp well into old age. In addition to scheduling exams, there are many general tips we can follow to keep our eyes healthy and functioning at their best.
When we age, it’s normal for our eyes and vision to gradually begin to weaken. That’s why it is essential to get regular comprehensive eye exams to screen for age-related eye diseases. You should see an optometrist annually to have a consistent eye health benchmark, which will track any future changes in your eye health. Getting regular comprehensive eye exams is the best way to detect eye disease, as many eye diseases are asymptomatic until the late stages of the disease. Early discovery of eye disease will ensure better treatment outcomes, as vision loss is permanent.
Some common age-related eye diseases include:
• Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – AMD is an eye disease that can blur your central vision. AMD happens when your macula, the part of the eye responsible for straight-ahead
vision is damaged due to aging.
• Diabetic retinopathy – Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that causes vision loss and blindness in people with diabetes. Vision loss is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the
• Cataracts – A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye. Most cataracts develop with age, but they can also occur due to other reasons, such as eye injury or surgery.
• Glaucoma – Glaucoma is a family of eye diseases that can cause blindness due to damage to the optical nerve. The damage is caused by a buildup of pressure in the eye.
• Dry eye – Dry eye occurs when your eyes either do not produce enough tears or there is a problem with tear production. The risk of dry eye increases as you age.
• Low vision – Low vision refers to a vision problem that interferes with everyday activities, such
as reading, driving, or recognizing other people’s faces.
In addition to receiving regular comprehensive eye exams, there are other lifestyle choices you should make to ensure your eyes remain healthy. Some of these choices include:
• Not smoking – Current and former smokers have a much greater chance of developing age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness.
• Maintain a healthy weight – Putting on extra weight increases the chances of developing cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
• Using sunglasses – Exposure to ultraviolet light increases the chances of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
• Be physically active – Those that participate in regular physical activity experienced less vision loss than those who weren’t physically active.
As we age, it's important to focus on maintaining our overall health. Schedule an appointment today and let’s discuss how you can have healthy eyes for years to come. You might be surprised at just how much you can do to stay healthy and vibrant as you age!