Age-related eye diseases, such as macular degeneration and glaucoma, are becoming more prevalent each year and the number of people affected by these eye problems and the effects of them are only continuing to grow.
In fact, according to Prevent Blindness – a patient advocacy organization – of Americans over the age of 40, there are about 41 million reports of low vision, blindness, and age-related eye diseases and it is estimated that by the year 2032 that number will increase to an astounding 64 million.
Those are some serious numbers and it’s important to understand what can be done to try to bring them down. There are many eye problems that cannot be cured, but there are many that can be prevented or at least delayed. You can lower your risk for developing these eye problems by making a few lifestyle changes, which we’ll talk about in a minute.
Plus, since it seems people are developing eye and vision problems such as cataracts at younger ages now, it’s especially important to take the necessary precautions as early as possible to ensure your eyes remain healthy and strong for as long as possible.
Most Common Eye Problems
Cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration are among the most common eye problems that aging people deal with each year. While each of these problems is generally thought to be associated with older age, younger people can develop them too.
Cataracts isn’t just for elderly people as we previous believed, young people can develop them too, especially if they are already nearsighted. The blurry vision that is caused by cataracts can at first be managed by changing your eyeglass prescription, but as it progresses, it may cause interference with being able to do regular day-to-day activities, and it’s at that point that surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.
Is Surgery the Answer… Or Even a Possibility?
Cataract surgery is a very common surgery that can be completed in as little as 30 minutes and it’s considered to be extremely safe. The doctor will go in and remove the cataract and then replace it with an artificial lens, which can be adjusted to correct your vision. This surgery has a high success rate and most people who have the surgery performed report that they can actually see better after the surgery than they have in a long time.
Unfortunately, there isn’t such a successful fix for glaucoma. Glaucoma can cause vision loss and blindness and there is no way to reverse the effects of the disease, but it is possible to delay the progression of glaucoma. The first step to doing this is to have regular eye exams to monitor the glaucoma and to check for any additional vision problems.
It is recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology that adults receive an eye exam at the age of 40, and then they should have additional exams every two to four years to the age of 55, every one to three years to the age of 65, and then every one to two years after that. However, if you are at risk for developing age-related eye diseases or glaucoma, you should be seen more frequently.
It is important to stick to these recommendations so that glaucoma can be detected as early as possible so treatments can begin to delay the progression of the disease. Eye drops may be given to help relieve pressure on the eyes or sometimes surgery or lasers are used to lower the amount of pressure and these treatments are very successful at delaying glaucoma from progressing.
With age-related macular degeneration, the retinal cells begin to deteriorate and can lead to vision loss and blindness. However, when the disease is caught early, it is possible to maintain good vision with proper treatments.
Preserving Your Eyesight
Other than receiving regular eye exams and getting treatments for any existing eye problems, you can stave off eye diseases with proper nutrition. Eating foods that contain antioxidants such as vitamins A and E, lutein, beta carotene, copper, zeaxanthine and zinc just to name a few, can boost your eye health and improve your vision. In addition to eating foods that contain these nutrients, you can also take vitamin supplements to ensure you are getting the needed amounts of each of these nutrients on a daily basis.
You should also pay special attention to any changes in your vision that you notice. If your vision becomes blurry or you begin seeing spots in your vision or anything else unusual, you should see your eye doctor for an exam as there may be a problem.
If you are a smoker, quitting will decrease your risk of developing eye diseases and other vision problems. Losing weight if you are obese and controlling high blood pressure or blood sugars if you’re diabetic will also decrease your risks.
The more people who take these steps to take care of their eye health and preserve their vision for as long as possible will help to lower the numbers of cases of eye diseases, loss of vision, and blindness.