Protecting The Health of Our Aging Eyes
During our life’s early years, most of us experience healthy vision, even in cases where corrective eyewear is necessary for nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Like many health issues, our eyes are also susceptible to various issues as we age. Regardless of your age, be aware of your family history and make sure that you have a regular eye exam.
Under the age of 40, good lifestyle choices are as essential for the eyes just as they are for other parts of your body. After 40, you may notice a change in close–up vision. After 60, there is no doubt that your visual performance may deteriorate, you are more susceptible to various eye conditions and other health conditions may cause vision problems as well.
Most importantly, realize that your eye health can be maintained and preserved throughout your lifetime. Make sure you know how to take care of your aging eyes throughout all stages of life with regular examinations and guidance from your Vision Source eye care professional.
Eye Care at the Ages of 19 – 40
At the ages of 19 – 40, you may experience the need for corrective eyewear, whether eye glasses or contacts, but otherwise, most will experience minimal issues. Make sure to schedule an eye exam at least every two years or more often if determined necessary by your eye doctor. Most importantly, developing good eye health behaviors at this stage in life can have long term impact on your vision health. This includes:
- Healthy eating habits
- Wearing sunglasses
- Reading and working with proper lighting
- Frequent rest breaks to avoid continuous eye strain at work
- Positioning your computer at eye level with proper screen brightness
- Wearing eye protection when at work or outdoors
Eye Care at the Ages 40 – 60
The most common time for adults to experience change in vision is after the age of 40. Some may have had perfect vision for most of their life and suddenly restaurant menus become hard to read or reading a book is a challenge.You may notice that you need more light to perform at work, have increase problems with glare or even changes in color perception and dry, irritated eyes. These are all normal conditions that are often experienced after the age of forty and most can be treated to maintain your quality of life. You just may need glasses or have to treat your eyes differently than in the past.It is also important that adults over 40 are aware of other risk factors that may cause visual problems:
- A family history of eye disease such as Glaucoma or AMD
- Increased risk from an occupation where eye hazards are more prevalent
- Chronic, systemic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure
- Demanding work that has heavy reliance on visual acuity
- Other health conditions such as thyroid, anxiety, depression or high cholesterol
- Side affects that can be caused by various medications
Eye Care After the Age of 60
As we age and especially after 60, the eyes are more prone to health related issues, as is the rest of our body. Some natural occurrences you may notice are an increase in spots or “floaters”, fluctuating vision, distorted images or even loss of peripheral vision. While some of this may not be considered high risk, in many cases, these can be indicators of larger visual problems that should be addressed. For example, loss of peripheral vision could be a sign of Glaucoma; floaters accompanied by bright lights could indicate a retinal detachment. Vision distortion such as wavy lines or blind spots could be an indication of Macular degeneration, a disease that can result in vision loss if not treated.If you are attentive to the warning signs and get regular eye exams, you do not have to compromise your lifestyle. Keep in mind many visual conditions are painless and show little signs, so the older we get the more important regular eye exams become. Common eye conditions after the age of 60 include:
- Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – The loss of central vision while peripheral vision remains unaffected. Early detection is essential with AMD.
- Diabetic retinopathy – A condition occurring in people with diabetes and the result of progressive damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina.
- Cataracts – A cloudy film forms over the lens of the eye and interferes with normal vision. Usually cataracts develop in both eyes and can be surgically corrected.
- Glaucoma – Generally, those with a family history, African Americans or older adults, are at higher risk for Glaucoma, characterized by damage to the optic nerve resulting in vision loss.
- Dry Eye – A condition in which there is insufficient tear production or oil production causing the tears to evaporate too rapidly. Dry Eye is a chronic problem but its symptoms are treatable.