Are you aware that September is Healthy Aging Month? While “healthy aging” may sound like an oxymoron to some, staying healthy as you get older isn’t only possible, it’s also very manageable.
There are a lot of health conditions that you become more likely to develop as you get older. The easiest way to reduce this risk? Leading a healthy lifestyle!
Medical technology is also the best it’s ever been, so even these various health conditions can be safely managed. Of course, one of the leading health issues in older individuals is eye health.
But keeping your vision in good shape is possible if you lead an active lifestyle and schedule regular eye exams. Keep reading to learn more about Healthy Aging Month!
Know Your Risks
If you’re 40 or older, you’re at a higher risk for a variety of eye conditions which include:
Cataracts occur when the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy or harder to see through. Most people with cataracts need cataract surgery once it becomes difficult to complete everyday activities.
If your intraocular pressure (IOP) is too high due to a build-up of fluids in the eye, it can lead to glaucoma. Left untreated, glaucoma will eventually cause irreversible vision loss.
When the macula begins deteriorating, this is a sign of something called macular degeneration. Over time, as the macula continues degrading, this leads to vision loss.
Diabetics are more likely to develop a condition called diabetic retinopathy. With diabetic retinopathy, high blood sugar levels cause the overgrowth of blood vessels on the retina. This may then lead to retina damage and vision loss.
The older you are, the more your risk for developing some of these eye conditions increases. Other risk factors include:
- Family history
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Poor nutrition
- UV damage to the eye
- Tobacco use
- Heavy drinking
Many of these factors are in your control, but not all of them. You can’t prevent getting older and you can’t change your family history. But by leading a healthy lifestyle, you can lower your risks.
Develop Good Habits
The best habits to stay healthy are eating a balanced diet and staying active. For your eyes, eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
You’ll also want to get enough vitamins and folates in your diet. Try to eat fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, and leafy greens in particular. You can also take supplements like fish oil or flaxseed oil, although it’s more beneficial to get these nutrients from food.
It’s also important to stay hydrated and avoid smoking and excessive drinking. Be sure to always keep your eyes protected from the sun.
Wear sunglasses marked as blocking 100% of UV rays) and a wide-brimmed hat on particularly sunny days.
The best habit to keep your eyes healthy is easy: having regular eye exams.
Have Regular Eye Exams
Most of the eye conditions listed above cause irreversible vision loss when left untreated. The only way to save your vision is to diagnose these conditions early before any damage can occur.
To keep your eyes healthy, start by having regular eye exams. Many conditions like glaucoma don’t have any noticeable symptoms before they cause vision loss.
If you’re over 40, you should be seeing an eye doctor at least once every two years. If you’re over 50 or are at high risk due to other factors, you should see your eye doctor annually. If you’re considered very high risk, you may need to see an ophthalmologist more.
Talk to your eye doctor about your medical history. This is the only way they can understand and recommend an eye exam schedule that works for you. If you make an effort to stay up to date with eye exams and live an active lifestyle, aging will become much easier.
Wondering if it’s time to see an eye doctor? Schedule an appointment at Eyecare Medical Group in Portland, ME, today!