As you age, your vision can weaken. Vision problems have the ability to affect your life and limit your independence, but there are many things you can do now to keep your vision strong and maintain any changes. There are some minor conditions that you may develop as you age, which include nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Some more serious age-related conditions include presbyopia, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts, but all of these conditions can be prevented or delayed if you take proper care of your eyes early on.
Keep up With Regular Eye Appointments
Keeping your eyes healthy as you age is a direct result of your eye care practices when you are younger. The sooner you begin to practice an eye care routine, the longer you may be able to maintain your healthy vision or prolong its decline.
In general, healthy adults who have no current vision impairments should see an eye doctor for an exam every 5-10 years in their 20s and 30s, every 2-4 years in their 40s and 50s, every 3 years in their 50s and 60s, and every year thereafter. Adults who have an eyeglasses prescription, family history of eye problems, chronic diseases that can lead to eye degeneration such as diabetes, or take medications with eye-related side effects should increase their routine visits accordingly.
Maintaining a regular schedule with your eye doctor will benefit you in the long run because they will be able to catch any symptoms that may develop over time. Early detection can keep eye conditions from worsening and causing more serious problems. So, you should be upfront about any abnormal eye-related symptoms you experience, even if they are minor.
Update your Prescription
If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, you should bring them with you to your eye exams. An eye doctor will not only want to check your eyes, but they will also want to check your current prescription to make sure it is correct and up-to-date. If you are in-between eye exams, you can use a prescription check app to renew your eyeglasses prescription from home with your iPhone or laptop and current pair of glasses. Using this telehealth app allows you to speak directly to an eye doctor online to evaluate how you’re seeing through your current eyeglasses and renew your prescription if need be, saving you a trip to the doctor’s office.
It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for your eyes to adjust to a new prescription. If your eyesight does not improve with your prescription within a few weeks, your prescription is probably too weak or too strong. Wearing the wrong prescription can cause headaches, eye-strain, and fatigue, but it is unlikely that it will worsen your vision any further.
Still, you should remain aware of the state of your vision and make another appointment for an adjustment if your prescription feels off.
Be Aware of Warning Signs
There are multiple warning signs and symptoms of age-related eye conditions that you should be on the lookout for. Many of these eye conditions often show no symptoms in the early stages and warning signs tend to go unnoticed by many people. It is more important now than ever to make yourself aware of the signs and symptoms of chronic eye conditions as you age.
There are more simple factors that include genetics, nearsightedness, farsightedness, and diabetes, which can all put you at a higher risk of developing eye-related diseases. More specific warning signs include:
- Tunnel vision
- Sharp pain in eyes
- Blurred vision
- Faded colors
- Sensitivity to light
- Poor night vision
- Dark vision
- Distorted vision
- Double vision
These symptoms should not be ignored and could be accompanied by other indicators like nausea and vomiting, headache, and irritability. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your optometrist immediately. An eye doctor can take action to prevent the condition from developing further by using eye drops, updating your prescription, suggesting lifestyle changes, or with surgery.
Give your Eyes Break
Another factor that can contribute to poor eye health is overuse. To prevent any further eyestrain you should take regular breaks from digital screens, reading materials, and heavy exposure to direct sunlight.
Especially now, during quarantine, digital exposure has increased through the use of computers, smartphones, and televisions. The blue light emitted through these digital screens has been known to cause harmful effects to the users’ eyes such as feeling sore or irritated and making it difficult to focus.
You should also take frequent breaks from reading materials because focusing on small print for too long can cause eye strain as well. While reading, you should make sure you are in a well-lit room and take a short break about every 10 minutes, so your eyes can rest and readjust.
Too much exposure to direct sunlight can be harmful to your eyes too. Natural sunlight also emits blue light, but it is far less harmful than digital blue light. In fact, according to Prevent Blindness, natural blue light exposure from sunlight is healthy in moderation. It boosts cognitive function, regulates your body’s sleep-wake cycle, and provides a good source of vitamin D. But almost all visible blue light passes through your cornea and lens and reaches your retina, which could affect your vision and may prematurely age your eyes.
You can protect your eyes from the damaging effects of blue light exposure, natural and digital, by interacting with it in moderation, using screen filters like Night Shift Mode on digital devices, or wearing protective glasses while interacting with it for a long period of time.
You may not be able to reverse your eye condition but you can start taking precautions to keep your eyes healthy and to keep any existing conditions from getting worse. Having healthy vision is possible at any age. If you’re looking to start taking your eye health more seriously, speak to your eye doctor today!