As we age, our body and our health inevitably starts to change. Our eyes are no exception.
With September being Healthy Aging Month, we want to remind you that taking care of your eyes as you get older is important for keeping your eyes healthy. But we know this can seem more challenging as the years go on.
At Illinois Eye Center, we’re always focused on helping you stay proactive in your eye health. Keep reading to learn more about how our eyes change as we age and what you can do to keep your eyes healthy, no matter what age you are.
What happens to our eyes as we age?
Like with any part of our body, getting older can affect how well our eyes function. For example, you may notice the following natural changes to your vision as you get older:
- Difficulty seeing things up close
- Challenges with telling colors apart, especially similar colors like black and blue
- Adjusting to light brightness more slowly
For many of these conditions, a change in your glasses or contact prescription may be all you need. In more serious cases, aging can put you at a higher risk of eye-related diseases. This can include:
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which affects your ability to see objects clearly, making it hard to read or drive.
- Cataracts, which are cloudy areas that appear in the lens of an eye. They can cause blurry vision, and usually require surgery to fix.
- Diabetic retinopathy, which occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels near the eye and cause cloudy vision.
- Glaucoma, which are conditions caused by damage to the optic nerve.
- Dry eyes, which occur when tear ducts don’t work correctly and leave your eyes feeling itchy and burning.
These conditions require more extensive treatments beyond eyeglasses (including surgeries and medications). If left untreated, many of these conditions can lead to permanent vision loss.
How can you be proactive in your eye care?
The best way to keep your eyes healthy is to be proactive and focus on your eye health before your eyes start to change. Here are a few ways you can do that:
Get regular eye exams
Part of being proactive means watching for signs of eye-related diseases so you can catch them early. Catching a disease early can improve the chances of effective treatment. This is especially important for eye-related conditions, because many don’t cause symptoms until you’re pretty advanced in your disease.
Regular eye exams with your eye care provider can help monitor for any eye-related diseases. If you’re over 60 years old, the American Optometric Association recommends getting an eye exam every year. This includes a comprehensive eye exam, which can help monitor for signs of age-related macular degeneration or diabetic damage to the eyes.
Visit your primary care provider regularly
Your eyes can be affected by a range of medical issues that don’t originate in the eyes. Conditions like diabetes or hypertension can actually have a negative effect on your vision. Regular visits with your primary care doctor can help you manage any chronic conditions that may affect your eyes.
Have questions about your eye health? Contact the eye care experts at Illinois Eye Center today!