This article is for informational purposes only and does not diagnose any conditions
Protecting your vision as you age is essential in order to continue leading an active lifestyle. Your vision is what allows you to work, read, stay in touch with family and friends via social media, and drive. Unfortunately, as we age, we are more prone to vision problems, including AMD, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts.
How To Protect Your Eyes
Protecting your eyes as you age is essential in order to continue leading an active lifestyle. Good vision allows you to work, read, stay in touch with family and friends via social media, and drive. Unfortunately, as we age, we are more prone to vision problems and an increased incidence of eye diseases, including macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts.
Common Age-Related and Chronic Eye Diseases and Conditions
Presbyopia: Presbyopia is defined as an age-related inability to see objects and words up close, due to loss of accomodation, or the flexibility of the lens to change its shape to be able to focus.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD):
- Damages the macula, which is responsible for central vision.
- Classified as either exudative macular degeneration ("wet") or nonexudative macular degeneration ("dry")
- The wet form is generally treated with intravitreal injections (injections of medicine directly into the eye)
- To read more about macular degeneration, please read our Macular Degeneration Primer
- A clouding of the lens of the eye that gradually decreases visual clarity.
- Treated with cataract extraction (usually phacoemulsification or laser cataract surgery)
- One of the most common operations in the United States
Diabetic Retinopathy: High or uncontrolled blood sugar damages the blood vessels in and around the retina, leading to blindness.
Dry Eye: A condition that occurs due to inadequate basal tear production or insufficient tear composition.
- Characterized by damage to the optic nerve often caused by elevated intraocular pressure (abnormally high eye pressure in the eye).
- Generally irreversible
- Early detection is paramount to avoid
- Can be slowed down and treated with eyedrops or laser treatment or surgery
How to Protect Your Vision Throughout Your Life
Maintaining excellent vision is very important for your quality of life. There are a few things that you can do to maintain healthy eyes throughout your life.
1. GET REGULAR EYE EXAMS FOR EARLY DETECTION
Even if you don’t wear glasses and have never had a problem with your vision or eye health, it is important to schedule regular eye exams. After age 40, many eye diseases — including AMD, glaucoma and cataracts — become more prevalent. Scheduling eye exams once a year can help catch these eye diseases early when they are more easily monitored and treated.
2. EAT A HEALTHY DIET FOR PREVENTION OF EYE PROBLEMS
Eating a healthy diet can provide your body and eyes with vital nutrients that can help with the prevention of eye problems. Individuals who are worried about dry eye should eat foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and nuts. If you are concerned about the health of your macula, try eating plenty of dark leafy green vegetables, such as kale, collards and broccoli. Eating eggs and fruits high in citric acid may also help you preserve the health of your macula. For overall eye health, consider eating plenty of whole grains such as oats, barley and quinoa.
3. MANAGE CHRONIC DISEASES
Diabetes and high blood pressure can negatively affect your eye health. Diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in your retina, leading to permanent vision loss. The only way to prevent diabetic retinopathy and slow the progression of the disease is to keep your blood sugar within normal ranges. Having chronically high blood pressure can harm the macula and increase your risk of developing glaucoma and damage to the optic nerve.
4. STOP SMOKING AND/OR REDUCE YOUR EXPOSURE TO "SECOND-HAND" SMOKE
Smoking can damage your eyes. In addition to damaging your heart, lungs, and other organs of your body, smoking is associated with an increased risk of worsening macular degeneration and can lead to severe visual loss. If you smoke, it is important to try as much as possible to stop smoking. Many options are available nowadays to help reduce smoking such as nicotine patches, oral medications, and other therapies. In order to maintain excellent eye health, meet with your primary care physician in order to begin a conscientious program of smoking/tobacco cessation.