Eye Health Risks for Seniors to Know
As we age, certain health issues can become more and more prominent, meaning we have to stay consistent about medical check-ups and taking good care of ourselves. One area in particular that becomes more susceptible to disease and damage as we age is our eyes. There are several eye-related health risks that increase for seniors, and knowing what they are can help you know what signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for.
Which Eye Health Issues Should Seniors Keep Their Eyes On?
1.) Age-related macular degeneration. As the name indicates, age-related macular degeneration is an eye health condition uniquely associating with the aging process. The “degeneration” in question refers to the weakening of the macula, the hub of central vision. As it weakens, certain tasks that require strong central vision, i.e. reading and identifying fine details, can become more challenging.
2.) Cataracts. Cataracts are an extremely common eye health condition; it is estimated that nearly 22 million Americans who are over the age of 40 suffer from cataracts. The cataracts themselves affect your vision by blocking the lens of the eye, which can make for cloudy vision and a distorted perception of color. Because cataracts are so common, cataracts surgery is a frequently-performed and effective method of treatment.
3.) Glaucoma. People regardless of age are at risk for developing glaucoma, but seniors do have heightened chances. Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve, which can lead to moderate to severe vision loss; there is even the risk that glaucoma will lead to blindness if left untreated.
Though all three of these eye health conditions can have serious consequences for your vision, early detection can help you to avoid them. Make sure to attend check-ups at your eye doctor’s on a regular basis to see what you can do to keep your eyes health for years to come!
There are things you can do in your daily life to help aid in healthy eyes, one of which is diet. As part of an eye-healthy diet, choose foods rich in antioxidants, like vitamins A and C, such as leafy, green vegetables and fish. Many foods – especially fish – contain essential omega-3 fatty acids that are important to the health of the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision.
An inadequate intake of antioxidants, as well as over consumption of alcohol and saturated fats may create free-radical reactions that can harm the macula. High-fat diets can also cause deposits that constrict blood flow in the arteries. The eyes are especially sensitive to this, given the small size of the blood vessels that feed them.
Another thing you can do is exercise, our eyes need good blood circulation and oxygen intake, and both are stimulated by regular exercise.
Quit smoking, Smoking exposes your eyes to high levels of oxidative stress. While the connection has not been clearly identified, it’s a fact that smoking increases your risk of developing a variety of conditions that affect eye health.
Being outdoors on a sunny day feels wonderful – but it can be tough on your eyes. The solution? Wear sunglasses that block harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Also, a hat with a brim will reduce the amount of UV radiation slipping around the side of your sunglasses.
Lori A. Sportelli, O.D., Doctor of Optometry says “We are living longer now than ever before. As we age, our bodies, including our eyes, can “break down” if we don’t take care of ourselves. We can have wonderful quality of life as we age if we adopt a healthy lifestyle and have preventative health exams. There is no reason seniors cannot be active and participate fully in all aspects of life well into their 90’s. Vision is one of our most important senses. Our eyes can change faster in our senior years than any other time in our lives, so it’s of great importance that yearly comprehensive dilated eye exams are a part of our wellness plan. This is even more important if you have a family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration, or if you have diabetes, as this is the leading cause of preventable blindness.”
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