Everyone goes through physical changes as their bodies age. Some changes, such as graying hair or loss of elasticity in your skin, are universally expected. Another change that many assume will occur is vision loss, but that expectation isn’t necessarily rooted in fact.
Low Vision Is Not Inevitable
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, losing vision to such an extent that makes it difficult to carry out daily tasks is not a normal part of aging. The vision changes often associated with aging are usually the result of injuries, eye disease or both.
Symptoms of low or decreased vision that people over age 60 may experience include a decrease in central and/or peripheral (side) vision, night blindness or hazy, blurred vision. These symptoms can result in difficulty reading, driving, recognizing faces and shopping.
“Youth Is Wasted on the Young”
George Bernard Shaw got it right when he lamented, “Youth is wasted on the young.” The best way to prevent a loss of visual acuity or low vision as we age is to take care of our eyes in our younger years. Since most of us are more focused on matters other than the health of our eyes during our younger years, many of us face vision loss when we’re dancing around our 60th birthday.
The bottom line is that anyone experiencing vision problems should see an ophthalmologist immediately. In the interim, there are steps we can take to help maintain or possibly improve our vision as we age.
Steps for Vision Health
The following are some simple, common-sense steps you can take to maintain the health of your eyesight, both throughout your youth and into your later years:
- See your eye care professional for a dilated eye exam yearly, or as recommended. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect some diseases of the eye.
- Maintain a proper diet, including fresh vegetables and fruits. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and dark, leafy greens can help keep eyes healthy.
- Watch your weight. Complications of being overweight, such as diabetes, can increase your chances of vision loss.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking may increase your risk for cataracts, optic nerve damage and age-related macular degeneration.
- Utilize protective eyewear when playing sports or engaging in activities that could lead to eye damage. Safety glasses and goggles, eye guards and safety shields provide protection from injury. Use sunglasses that block UV radiation.
- Reduce eyestrain by practicing the 20-20-20 rule. When spending time at the computer or using your phone or tablet, look about 20 feet away, for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes.
Aging is a natural process; make certain vision loss doesn’t accompany it.