Looking Out For Your Eyes!

Protecting your eyesight as you age might be more important to your health and quality of life than you realize. Older people with poor eyesight often have to curtail activities that bring them joy and a sense of independence, including driving, reading, and watching TV.  According to the CDC’s publication, The State of Vision, Aging and Public Health in America, elderly people experiencing vision loss are more likely to have other health problems, suffer from falls or other injuries, be depressed and/or socially withdrawn and even have a higher mortality rate. Given what is at stake, making an annual visit to the eye doctor should be a no brainer.

There are several different types of eye disease that can strike as we age, including cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Cataract is the clouding of the eye’s lens, which reduces the amount of light that can enter the eye. Over 24 million Americans age 40 and up suffer from cataracts, and corrective surgery for cataracts is extremely routine and has a 95% success rate. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that for patients with cataracts, having cataract surgery reduced their likelihood of suffering a hip fracture from a fall in the year following surgery as compared to cataract patients who did not undergo corrective surgery. Good eyesight is critical to maintaining good balance, and cataracts often cause vision changes that affect postural stability. Glaucoma damages the optic nerve and can lead to vision loss or blindness if it’s not treated early. Age-related macular degeneration affects a person’s ability to see fine detail. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that causes damage to the blood vessels of the retina.

Fortunately, roughly half of all vision problems can be corrected or lessened through preventative eye care or corrective treatments. Lifestyle changes can help too—smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and injuries can all contribute to vision loss but can be managed by you. It is recommended that adults have a comprehensive eye exam, including dilation, at least once every couple of years. Looking out for your eyes can help you live a longer, healthier, happier life!

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