Warning: Are You Unknowingly Making Yourself Blind

vision loss

Don’t live in total darkness!

That got your attention, didn’t it? It made you think of how well are you taking care of your eyes.

We fuss too mush over the wrinkles on our face, hands, and tummy. We spend too much on health foods and supplements, and be concerned when we start forgetting things.

Yet, we hardly do anything about our eyes. For example, can you remember the last time you had your eyes checked? Your guess is as good as mine.

The only thing you can remember is that you went there when you sensed something was wrong with your vision but never went back when things were normal again.

Well, that’s how it is with people – we only act when a lightning strikes. For that reason, about 12% of Americans aged 65 to 74 years of age are having vision loss (partial or complete loss of vision).

Note: Technically, vision loss refers to partial or complete loss of vision (total blindness). Most people take blindness as “complete loss of vision.” However, a person can be partially blind (limited vision) or legally blind (vision is worse than 20/200 with glasses or other seeing aids).


Common age-related eye problems:

One in three Americans aged 65 and above, has some form of eye disease that impairs vision. I started wearing reading glasses at 45, and right now my left eye is showing some signs of cataract.

So you might know, there are four common eye diseases that afflict the elderly. These are:


1.  Glaucoma:
Glaucoma is caused by a build-up of pressure inside the eye, particularly near the optic nerve, damaging it.

It can result to vision loss or blindness.

In its early stage, glaucoma can be treated with drugs (drops on pills). In severe cases, surgery is often resorted to.

This eye disease tends to be inherited, so if your family has a history of the disease, get a regular eye examination.


2.  Cataract:
Cataract occurs when the lenses of the eyes are clouded, resulting to a blurred vision.

Like glaucoma, cataract tends to be hereditary.

Treatment in its early stage includes certain types of glasses. In its advances stage, surgery is the best option to remove it.


3.  Macular Degeneration (MD:
Macular degeneration results when the macula (small area at the center of the retina) degenerates affecting your central vision.

Though people with MD rarely go blind, but is makes reading, driving and some of your daily activities difficult to do.

MD can be corrected by using low-vision devices and drugs. But the laser surgery is mostly resorted to.


4.  Diabetes Retinopathy:
Diabetes retinopathy is caused either by high blood sugar or pressure.

Retinopathy damages the retina of the eyes and its early symptoms are “floaters” across your field of vision, blurred or distorted vision, partial loss of vision and pain in the eye.

Laser treatment, or surgery can help improve vision of people with the disease – provided it is diagnosed early before the retina is damaged.


Five Simple Eye Care Tips:

To help avoid or mitigate their effects, these simple steps can help you:


1.  See your eye doctor regularly:
Experts suggest an eye examination once of every three years, depending on age and other age factors, i.e., high blood sugar, high blood pressure and family history.

The American Optometric Association warns that eye disease can strike with no or little symptoms when people reach 60.


2.  Eat eye-health foods:
Eat plenty of beta-carotene rich foods like carrots, tomatoes, and those rich in vitamin C, E, and omega-3 fatty acids like spinach, eggs, berries, salmon, soy and avocados.


3.  Exercise your eyes, not just your body:
There are six muscles that control your eyes. And just as you exercise the muscles of your body, those in the eyes need to be exercised, as well.

For example, aerobics can lower blood pressure around the eyes – one of the risk factors for retinopathy.


4.  Give your eyes regular breaks:
If you are a heavy computer user, then you must know how strenuous it is to the eyes. In fact, some studies show that 50 to 90% of heavy computer users have eye problems like blurred vision, twitching, and redness or dry eyes.

A 10 to 15 min break per hour is recommended. Don’t fret so much about this lull. It will be compensated by an increase in efficiency resulting from a better vision.


5.  Protect your eyes from the sun:
Wear eye protection if you spend long hours under the sun.

The lens and the cornea serve as UV (ultraviolet) filters. Prolonged exposure to UV can make the lens yellowish and years of use can damage both.

When staying outdoors, always use a wide-brimmed hat and UV-light protected sunglasses.

Our eyes allow us to see the world around us. They make us complete.

So take good care of them before total darkness envelops your world.

Please share with other seniors to raise their consciousness of the importance of a good pair of eyes.

Image: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/eye-project-for-seniors-may-be-extended