Vision plays such a vital role in every aspect of our life; it is what makes the work we do, the places we go, and the leisure activities we enjoy a possibility. However, it’s also something that is easy to take for granted until it is compromised. February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month, which seems like the perfect time to share some information and tips regarding protecting your peepers.
Seniors are especially prone to experiencing eye-related issues. Beyond the increased likelihood of vision simply worsening with age, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) becomes much more common, serving as the leading cause of vision loss in people 50 years and older. AMD occurs when a part of the retina called the macula is damaged, and that damage can cause loss of central vision and an inability see fine details. There are two types: the much more prevalent Dry AMD, in which parts of the macula get thinner with age and covered with tiny clumps of protein, and rarer but more serious Wet AMD, when new, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina, which leak and cause scarring of the macula. Blurriness is the main symptom of AMD.
Glaucoma and cataracts are also vision issues that occur much more frequently in seniors. Many of these vision problems cause symptoms like mild blurriness or haziness that are easy to put off or ignore, meaning that they often aren’t discovered until vision is already significantly affected. Even small changes in vision are very important, because they can also often be an early indicator of other health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure. This is why individuals over the age of 50 must be proactive and vigilant about their eye health and make regular check-up appointments with their ophthalmologist.
Beyond keeping up with annual eye screenings and appointments, it is also important to keep protective eyewear at home to use during any strenuous activity (particularly home improvement projects) and to take every precaution to avoid falls, which can be big proponents of eye-related injuries. Exercise is a key factor for maintaining general health, but it also plays a large role in eye health, as it stimulates the blood circulation & oxygen intake your eyes need. Finally, maintaining good sleep habits promotes healthy eyes, as the constant lubrication eyes receive during sleep clears out irritants like dust, allergens, and smoke.
Our eyes may be small, but they do a huge job for us- do them and yourselves a favor and make that job easier by adhering to good eye health practices that will keep the windows to your soul shining for years to come!