Eyes are considered one of the most important body parts due to their crucial role in providing the sense of vision, which is fundamental to how we perceive and interact with the world. And much like other organs, eyes age and change over time. Unsurprisingly, through a lifetime, eyes undergo various changes that can affect vision and overall eye health.
Caring for aging eyes is crucial because age-related changes in the eyes can lead to various vision problems and eye conditions. As we grow older, the eyes can undergo natural changes that may impact things like visual acuity, depth perception, color perception, and overall eye health.
In order to know more about the aging eye, our doctors here at Brookside Optometric Group have compiled a list of possible age related health issues to watch out for and recommendations on how to best care for your eyes as they begin to experience the normal wear and tear of aging.
Possible Age Related Eye Health Issues to Know About
- Cataracts: Cataracts occur when the eye's natural lens becomes cloudy, leading to blurred vision, glare sensitivity, and reduced color perception. Eye aging is the most common cause of cataracts, but they can also result from other factors like UV exposure and certain medications
- Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): AMD is a progressive condition that affects the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision. It can cause blurred or distorted vision, and in advanced stages, central vision loss
- Glaucoma: Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that cause damage to the optic nerve, often due to increased intraocular pressure. It is a leading cause of irreversible blindness, and the risk of developing glaucoma increases with age
- Dry Eye Syndrome: As people age, they may experience decreased tear production, leading to dry eyes. Dry eye syndrome can cause discomfort, irritation, and blurred vision
- Reduced Pupil Size and Adaptation to Darkness: With age, the pupil size tends to decrease, and the eyes may take longer to adjust to changes in lighting conditions, making it harder to see in dim or dark environments
- Increased Sensitivity to Glare: Aging eyes may become more sensitive to bright lights and glare, making driving at night or in bright sunlight more challenging
- Decreased Color Vision: Some people may experience a decline in color perception as they age, particularly with distinguishing certain shades and hues
- Vitreous Floaters: As the vitreous gel in the eye becomes more liquefied with age, it can lead to the appearance of floaters, which are tiny specks or strings that seem to float across the field of vision
- Presbyopia: Presbyopia is a natural age-related condition where the eye's lens becomes less flexible, leading to difficulty focusing on close-up objects. It typically becomes noticeable in people over the age of 40 and may require reading glasses or bifocals
- Increased Risk of Eye Diseases: The risk of various eye diseases and conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, and vascular disorders also tend to increase with age
Now that you know about many of the possible ways eyes are affected during the aging process, it is important to know how to prevent and treat those possible ailments. Treating aging eyes involves a combination of preventive measures, lifestyle changes, and medical interventions to address age-related eye changes and conditions. Here are some strategies to treat aging eyes:
How to Best Protect Your Aging Eyes
- Schedule regular eye exams: Be sure to have comprehensive eye exams with an eye care professional at least once every one to two years, or as recommended by your doctor. Regular check-ups can help detect and address any eye issues early on
- Protect your eyes from UV rays: Long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can increase the risk of cataracts and AMD. When choosing sunglasses, make sure to purchase pairs that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays when you're outdoors, and choose wide-brimmed hats for added protection
- Eat a balanced diet: Proper nutrition is crucial for maintaining eye health. Include foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Some examples of beneficial options include leafy green vegetables, colorful fruits, fish, nuts, and seeds
- Manage chronic conditions: Conditions like diabetes and hypertension can have a significant impact on eye health. Work with your healthcare provider to manage these conditions effectively and keep them under control to reduce the risk of eye-related complications
- Quit smoking: Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of cataracts, AMD, and other eye problems. If you smoke, quitting can significantly benefit your overall eye health
- Give your eyes a break: If you spend a lot of time looking at screens (computers, smartphones, tablets), follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break, and look at something 20 feet away to reduce eye strain
- Use proper lighting: Ensure that the lighting in your living and working spaces is appropriate to prevent eye strain. Avoid excessive glare or too dim of spaces in order to ease the tension in your eyes
- Exercise regularly: Physical activity improves blood circulation, which is beneficial for eye health. Aim for regular moderate exercise, such as walking, jogging, or swimming on a daily basis
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions that can negatively affect your eyes
- Follow your doctor's recommendations: If you are diagnosed with an eye condition or require vision correction (glasses or contact lenses), follow your eye care professional's advice and prescribed treatment
Remember that prevention is essential when it comes to maintaining eye health. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, attending regular eye exams, and taking protective measures, you can take better care of your vision and reduce the risk of age-related eye problems.
If you are experiencing any changes in your vision or eye discomfort, don't hesitate to consult one of our eye care professionals here at Brookside Optometric Group.
Below you will find our recommendations on how often you should be attending eye exams in order to prevent any age related deterioration on your eyes
- Young Adults (19-39 years):
Young adults without any vision problems or risk factors should have an eye exam at least every two years.
- Adults (40-64 years):
Adults between the ages of 40 and 64 should have a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years to monitor for age-related vision changes and eye conditions like presbyopia and cataracts.
- Older Adults (65+ years):
Older adults aged 65 and above should have an eye exam every year or as recommended by their eye care professional. Regular check-ups are crucial to detect and manage age-related eye conditions like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and cataracts.
It is important to note that these are general guidelines, and individual circumstances may warrant more frequent eye exams. People with specific risk factors, such as a family history of eye diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, or those with existing eye conditions, may need more frequent eye exams as recommended by their eye care professional.
Additionally, if you experience any sudden changes in your vision, eye pain, or other eye-related symptoms at any age, you should promptly schedule an appointment with an eye care professional for a thorough evaluation. Early detection and treatment of eye problems can significantly impact the outcome and preserve your vision.
Here at Brookside Optometric Group, our doctors are devoted to caring for all eyes going through all stages of life. Together we will walk through life and care for your eyes as it sees and experiences all the ages.