Tips to Prevent Age-Related Eye Diseases

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 15-Dec-2014

As you age, you may notice a decline in your vision. Many people over age 40 will experience age-related vision loss due to a condition called presbyopia, which can cause difficulty reading and completing daily tasks requiring near vision. Presbyopia is not dangerous and can be corrected with reading glasses or bifocals.

Some age-related eye diseases, however, can be more serious, leading to partial or total vision loss. These eye conditions include: age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

Age-related macular degeneration occurs when the middle part of the retina, the macula, gets damaged. Sharp central vision diminishes as the macula is gradually destroyed. It is common in adults over age 50, and symptoms often advance slowly, making early detection more difficult without regular comprehensive eye exams.

Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes clouded. Cataracts are common among aging adults and can be treated with cataract surgery, in which the lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial lens implant.

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes and is the leading cause of blindness in the 20-64 year age group. Diabetic retinopathy causes leaky or abnormal blood vessels in the back of the eye, which damage vision and can cause complete vision loss.

Glaucoma is another common cause of vision loss in seniors. It is the result of high pressure inside the eye due to abnormal flow of fluid in the eye. As pressure in the eye rises, optic nerve damage and permanent blindness may occur.

Age-related eye diseases can be frightening, but there is some evidence that the risk of developing these diseases can be reduced with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

A National Eye Institute study on the use of supplements in preventing age-related eye diseases resulted in the AREDS formulation of daily high doses of vitamins and minerals. After multiple studies over the course of several years concluded that the long-term use of the AREDS supplements are safe in protecting against advanced age-related macular degeneration. That formula of supplements includes vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and copper.

You can help protect your eyes from age-related eye diseases by following these tips:

  • Quit smoking (or never start). Smokers are twice as likely to develop age-related macular degeneration than non-smokers.
  • Take the AREDS supplements as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Eat more leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and fish.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Manage other health conditions including diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • Always wear sunglasses when outside. Sunglasses should protect against 100% of UVA and UVB rays.

In addition to the above tips, keep up with routine eye exams. Symptoms of age-related eye diseases often progress slowly, so you may not notice changes in your vision until it’s too late. Seeing your eye doctor regularly for eye exams improves the chances of early detection and can help prevent vision loss. If you don’t remember the last time you had an eye exam, contact Key-Whitman Eye Center and make an appointment today.

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