Last Updated on May 16, 2023 by amy
Taking care of your vision should always be a priority for you, but it is crucial once you reach the age of 60. Your eye health can get more compromised as you get older. As you approach your later years, you should be scheduling appointments with your optometrist annually.
Several eye and vision problems are related to age, so it is important to be aware of them to preserve your eye health. Conditions affecting your eye health include age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.
AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in people over 60, causing damage to the macula, a small spot in the retina that allows us to see objects straight ahead. While AMD does not lead to blindness, it can affect your eye health and overall everyday life by affecting your ability to drive, read, write, focus, and see people’s faces. According to a study by the National Eye Institute, the daily intake of high-dose vitamins can slow the progression of the disease. These vitamins included C and E, zinc oxide, cupric oxide, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. It is important to take vitamins like this to help your eye health and prevent the possibility of AMD progressing rapidly.
Cataracts are cloudy areas in the vision that can cause blurry vision, increased glare sensitivity, dulling of colors, and decreased contrast sensitivity. By age 80, more than half of all Americans have cataracts or have already had cataract surgery. It is a prevalent disease in older people that affects eye health. Ways to improve your eye health and prevent this disease are wearing sunglasses and a hat when exposed to ultraviolet rays. Good nutrition can also be a positive factor in eye health, so consuming green leafy vegetables, fruit, and other antioxidant-rich foods is important. Once you reach the age of 60, the National Eye Institute recommends having your optometrist perform a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years to look for signs of cataracts and other age-related conditions that affect your eye health.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damages the eye’s optic nerve, resulting in vision loss and even blindness. It is one of the most common causes of blindness in the United States, resulting in a loss of nerve tissue in the eye. There are several forms of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma, acute angle-closure glaucoma, secondary glaucoma, and normal-tension glaucoma. The condition develops slowly without symptoms in primary open-angle glaucoma until you notice significant vision loss. The condition affects peripheral and side vision, eventually leading to central vision loss. Without treatment, glaucoma can have a huge negative impact on eye health, causing significant vision loss and sometimes blindness in both eyes. Acute angle-closure glaucoma happens abruptly, hence the name, and causes a rapid increase of pressure around the eye. It also leads to severe eye pain, nausea, eye redness, halos in the vision, and blurred vision. Secondary glaucoma is usually caused by injury or disease in the eye. In contrast, normal-tension glaucoma entails eye pressure in the normal range, still with damage to the optic nerve and overall eye health.
Diabetic retinopathy is another common result of poor eye health, usually causing vision loss and blindness. It is a result of diabetes and can lead to damage to the blood vessels in the retina, usually in both eyes. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include fluctuating vision, eye floaters and spots, development of a shadow in your vision, distorted vision, corneal abnormalities, double vision, eye pain, near vision problems, and cataracts.
A dry eye occurs when the eye does not produce tears properly or when the tears evaporate too quickly. It is caused by poor eye health, mainly a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the eye’s surface. It can eventually lead to significant inflammation and scarring on the eye. Dry eye syndrome is known in three other manners: keratitis sicca, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, and dysfunctional tear syndrome. Keratitis sicca is used to describe dryness and inflammation of the cornea. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca describes a dry eye that affects both the cornea and the conjunctiva. Dysfunctional tear syndrome emphasizes that an inadequate quality of tears can be just as important as an inadequate quantity. Symptoms of dry eyes include burning sensation, itchy eyes, aching sensations, heavy eyes, fatigued eyes, sore eyes, dryness sensation, red eyes, foreign body sensation, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision. It is one of the most common reasons people seek out an optometrist, and it can be treated to maintain proper eye health.
If left untreated, retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss. This condition is a major concern for eye health and requires prompt treatment once symptoms appear. The three types of retinal detachment are rhegmatogenous, tractional, and exudative. Rhegmatogenous retinal detachment is when a tear in the retina allows fluid under the retina and separates it from the cell layer that nourishes the retina. This is the most common type of retinal detachment and profoundly impacts eye health. Tractional retinal detachment is when scar tissue on the retina’s surface contracts and causes the retina to separate from the retinal pigment epithelium. Exudative retinal detachment is most commonly caused by eye diseases and is caused by fluid leaking into the area under the retina.
Aside from being informed of age-related conditions that affect your eye health, it is also important to be aware of other things involving your vision as you age. Driving can become challenging, especially after age 60, when your eye health can be compromised from conditions like AMD or cataracts. There are certain things to be on the lookout for when it comes to driving as you are older, which include an inability to see signs on the road, changes in color perception, a loss of peripheral vision, problems seeing at night time or in dim lighting, difficulty seeing objects up close, difficulty adapting to bright lights from headlights or other glares, and difficulty judging speeds and distances. Once you notice these symptoms, you must consult your eye doctor before your eye health becomes seriously compromised and affects you when you are behind the wheel. Aside from having yearly eye exams, taking driving courses specifically designed for senior citizens can also be helpful because they teach their students how to adapt to any age-related eye conditions that affect them on the road. Maintaining your eye health and not letting anything negatively affect you while driving is important.
Your everyday lifestyle can significantly impact your eye health, making it important to consume a healthy diet and get a proper amount of exercise each week. Exercise improves your blood circulation, therefore improving oxygen levels to the eyes and removing toxins from the area. It is one of the best and easiest ways to maintain eye health.
Regarding your diet for eye health, look for foods rich in antioxidants like vitamins A and C, such as leafy green vegetables and fish. Fish also contain essential omega-3 fatty acids, essential to the macula’s health and helps to prevent AMD. You should aim for a diet full of whole grains and cereals, as sugars and refined white flour can increase your risk of diseases that affect your eye health. You should also choose good sources of protein. Saturated fats from red meats and dairy products can increase your risk of macular degeneration. Avoiding sodium can decrease your risk of developing cataracts. Staying hydrated is also very important, as it can reduce irritation from dry eyes, so always drink lots of water throughout the day if you want to maintain your eye health.
Other everyday things can also have an impact on your eye health. When you are outside and exposed to UV rays, wear sunglasses. When sitting at the computer for an extended time, take a break every 15 minutes to keep your eye muscles from suffering repetitive stress from focusing too much. You do not want to risk your eye health being compromised by harmful rays from the sun.
And if you know or suspect that you have an eye injury, don’t leave it untreated. See your optometrist because your eye health is essential. Signs of an eye injury can include pain, vision problems, cut or torn eyelid, one eye that does not move as much as the other, one that protrudes more than the other, abnormal pupil size or shape, blood in the white of the eye, something embedded in the eye, or something under the eyelid that cannot easily be removed. Don’t let it worsen, or your eye health will suffer the consequences.