More than 40 million Americans are currently age 65 or older, and this number is expected to grow to more than 88 million by 2050. By that same year, the number of Americans with age-related eye diseases is expected to double, and the number of people living with low vision is projected to triple. Early detection and treatment are key to saving sight.
Here are some things you can do to help keep your vision healthy
HAVE A COMPREHENSIVE DILATED EYE EXAM.
You might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure. During this exam, your eye care professional places drops in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye the same way an open door lets more light into a dark room. This enables your eye care professional to get a good look at the back of your eyes and examine them for any signs of damage or disease. Your eye care professional can also let you know if your vision can benefit from glasses or contact lenses.
Find a doctor of optometry near you in Massachusetts and schedule your comprehensive dilated eye exam today.
KNOW YOUR RISK FACTORS. As you get older, you are at higher risk of developing age-related eye diseases and conditions such as AMD, cataract, diabetic eye disease, dry eye, and glaucoma. Having a family history of eye disease also puts you at higher risk. And being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions that can lead to vision loss. If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, talk to your doctor.
EAT RIGHT TO PROTECT YOUR SIGHT. You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes, but eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables—particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens—is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too. Research has also shown that there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut. A healthy diet can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which can help protect your vision.
WEAR YOUR SHADES AND A BRIMMED HAT. Sunglasses and a brimmed hat are great fashion accessories, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation. Prolonged sun exposure is associated with developing AMD and cataract.
DON’T SMOKE. Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing AMD, cataract, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to vision loss and blindness.
USE PROTECTIVE EYEWEAR. Wear protective eyewear such as goggles, safety glasses, face shields, and eye guards when playing sports or doing activities around the home and encourage your family and friends to do the same. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics. Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some sporting goods stores.