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Eye Care Guide for Older Adults

Our eyesight changes as we age. You may notice that you don’t have 20/20 vision anymore, or that you now need reading glasses when they weren’t necessary before. You may even have had to start seeing an optometrist for the first time in your life!

Because vision is such an important part of our overall wellness, it’s crucial that you not only understand the conditions to look out for, but also know preventative tips. In this guide, you’ll learn some of the most common eye conditions that affect older adults, their symptoms, and best practices to keep your eyesight in great shape.

Common Eye Conditions and Symptoms

1. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve, which is a necessity for good eyesight. The unfortunate part about glaucoma is that detection can be difficult because the symptoms may not be obvious for a long period of time. This means that you’ll want to have check-ups regularly with a professional to ensure you can catch any signs before they worsen.

Symptoms of glaucoma include:

  • Eye pain
  • Distorted or blurred vision
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Severe headaches
  • Patchy blind spots in vision

2. Cataracts

A cataract is a cloudy area of your eye’s natural lens that occurs with age or an injury. Fibers and proteins in the lens break down, causing vision to become blurry. If a cataract isn’t treated, it will continue to get worse. So, it’s especially important to visit a professional regularly to catch any early signs.

Symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Cloudy or blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Frequent changes in eyeglasses or contact lens prescription
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Difficulty seeing and driving at night

3. Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration, which is a common disease with people 50+, causes blurred central vision due to the thinning of the macula. The macula is necessary for clear vision and once it is damaged, you will need to get professional help because there is no cure. Fortunately though, if symptoms are caught in time, a professional can provide treatment that will slow the disease.

Symptoms of macular degeneration include:

  • Loss of central vision
  • Dark, blind, or empty spots in your line of vision
  • Straight lines that appear to be wavy
  • Inability to see in dim light
  • Blurred vision

4. Dry Eyes

Dry eyes occur when your eyes can’t produce enough tears to provide adequate moisture. Without enough moisture, you’re at a higher risk of developing eye infections, corneal ulcers, abrasion of the corneal surface, and even vision loss. 

Symptoms of dry eyes include:

  • Irritation, pain, and burning
  • Blurry or damaged vision
  • Gritty or scratchy feeling in the eye
  • Damage on the front surface of the eye (in severe cases)

Preventative Tips to Maintain Eyesight

1. Maintain a Vitamin-rich Diet

Essential nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, and omega-3 fatty acids are not only great for general health, but are extremely beneficial for taking care of your eyes. When changing your diet, you’ll want to add more foods like carrots, leafy greens, salmon, and oysters. The best part about this is that you can find these nutrients in many different foods, so you’ll always have a variety of meal options while also maintaining your eye health!

2. Get Regular Dilated Eye Exams

Dilated eye exams are different from regular tests because they’re one of the only methods that can be used to detect glaucoma or macular degeneration. You’ll want to have regular dilated eye exams because they can also help professionals identify other health issues you may have like diabetes or high blood pressure.

3. Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses not only protect your eyes from the sun’s dangerous UV rays, but they also provide a barrier against wind, dust, and other airborne debris that can cause permanent damage. When choosing sunglasses, look for ones that are anti-glare, can provide 100% UVA/UVB protection, and are big enough to cover the whole eye area. Don’t forget that your optometrist can even prescribe you with sunglasses that fit your specific prescription!

4. Use Ample Lights Indoors

Living in a dimly lit home doesn’t have any benefits for your eyesight. In fact, you can really damage your eyes by straining them with dim lighting! You’ll want to be sure to turn on lamps, hallway lights, and open any curtains to let natural light in. 

If that’s not enough, you can also invest in higher wattage light bulbs. Some are so powerful that you only need one to brighten up an entire room.

Don’t Wait to Get Help

Even if you think you have good vision or don’t feel bothered by any issues you’re having, it’s extremely important to still visit a professional and get your eyes checked. By taking the extra time now, a professional will help you identify any warning signs and can prevent symptoms from getting worse.

Additional Resources

10 Everyday Things You Can Do To Protect Your Sight

7 Worst Habits For Your Eyes

How You See As Time Goes By

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