Preventing Vision Loss
The aging process brings about a variety of changes to your body and your health. Some people experience minor aches and pains, and others begin to suffer vision loss. While a decline in vision is a common change that happens to us as we age, for some that means simply needing to pick up a pair of reading glasses and a book light, and for others it can be much more severe, with a near total loss of vision.
Because there is a world of degrees of vision loss, it can be helpful to know more about the various types of vision problems and loss an older adult may expect to experience. That way, you can know how to make the right choices for your health and lifestyle. The risk of severe eye problems increases significantly with age, but not all vision loss leads to blindness. There are many ways vision loss can impact and affect us, such as the following:
- Cataracts: Cloudy areas that form over the lens in the front of the eye. Cataracts keep light from passing easily through the lens to the retina, causing blurry vision. Cataracts generally do not cause pain, and the treatment for them is surgery to remove them. When left untreated, the cataracts can grow larger and worsen the blurriness.
- Glaucoma: A buildup of fluid pressure behind the eye that can lead to vision loss and blindness. There is currently no cure, but therapies that prevent vision loss are available.
- Age-related macular degeneration: With this diagnosis, there has been damage to the part of the retina responsible for detailed vision. This damage causes distorted or blurry vision.
- Diabetic retinopathy: A side effect of mismanaged diabetes, this occurs when the small blood vessels fail to provide the retina with the proper amount of blood. Advanced diabetic retinopathy can lead to severe vision loss and blindness. If caught early enough, it can be treated the same way as most other diabetic conditions, by getting blood sugar levels under control.
While preventing all vision loss may be outside the realm of possibility, it is completely possible to make changes to your lifestyle to prevent severe eye problems, or help you to detect them early and keep them from wreaking havoc. An annual eye exam with your physician and your ophthalmologist is one of the most important measures you can take.
- Protect from the sun: Wearing sunglasses and hats to protect your eyes from UV rays can help prevent vision damage.
- Manage diabetes: Diabetes is a condition that can severely negatively affect the overall health of your body, which includes the health of your eyes. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, following your physician’s instructions and managing your blood sugar is an important part of preserving your eye health.
- Manage your blood pressure: High blood pressure can, in addition to contributing to cardiovascular disease and strokes, also cause vision loss. High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels of your eyes.
- Diet: Foods that are nutrient dense and high in antioxidants and minerals may prevent macular degeneration.