Warning signs of age-related eye problems and disease in seniors

By: Emily Lunardo | Eye Health | Thursday, September 15, 2016 - 04:00 PM

age-related vision problemsAge-related eye problems and eye disease are common in seniors. It seems the older we get the greater our risk of vision impairment becomes. By recognizing the warning signs of age-related eye problems, you can start treatment early on to continue living a normal life not affected by vision problems.

Aside from corrective lenses and other medical interventions, lifestyle habits and changes can also work to slow down progression of age-related eye problems.

Signs and symptoms of age-related eye diseases

It’s important to spot the early warning signs that can indicate a possible vision problems. Some of these warning signs are as follows:

  • Seeing spots or floaters: In many cases, eye floaters are benign, but often they are associated with age-related vision problems. If floaters or spots come on suddenly, it could indicate a serious condition, but if they are gradual and come and go, it could simply signal an age-related vision problem.
  • Sensation of a dark curtain across your vision
  • Sudden eye pain, redness, nausea, or vomiting
  • Double vision
  • Blurry vision in one or both eyes
  • Narrowing of your field of vision
  • Blind spots in your line of vision
  • Scratch or irritated sensation
  • Changes in iris color
  • Dry eyes
  • Seeing halos
  • Inability to close eyelid
  • Glare
  • Crooked appearance of straight lines
  • Not seeing colors correctly
  • Excess discharge or tears
  • Loss of peripheral vision.

Eye health tips for seniors

vegetables that are healthier when cookedEat right to protect your sight.

Surely, you have heard carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is also important. Make a special effort to include dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.

Maintain a healthy weight.

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions that can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma.

Diabetes is a big one. You could be facing vision loss if you do not treat diabetes properly. While some symptoms can be corrected with a prescription for correctional lenses, if the tissue in your eyes has degenerated due to diabetes, then you may experience scarring, vision loss, and damage that deteriorates your level of vision. Due to diabetes, you can also develop cataracts, secondary glaucoma, and macular damage, so you must treat your diabetes to prevent vision loss.

Renewing your prescription

This goes for your eyeglasses, contacts, and medications that you may be taking for your eyes. You must make it your top priority to go and see your eye doctor once a year, every year, for check-up. This will ensure your prescription is up-to-date and that your eyeglasses and contacts are set properly to meet your eyes’ changing needs. As you age, your eyes unfortunately will decline in strength. It’s up to you to be proactive and ensure you are safeguarding your vision by staying on top of all your prescriptions.

Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

Cholesterol contributes to vision problemsYou might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure.  Many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration often have no warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these conditions in their early stages.  In addition, knowing your family history of eye health before such visit will be a great value add since this will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition.

For the ladies

One very important tip for women is to remove makeup carefully since it can cause problems to the eyes if left on for very long periods of time or if eyes are not washed properly between applications. Also, it is advisable to store makeup in a dry and clean place to prevent the buildup of bacteria, which has the potential of causing eye infections. And try using only those makeup products that are made from natural substances as much as possible.

It is also worth mentioning that in recent years, advertisers and eye health promoting agencies have indicated that sunglasses is a must-have accessory for eye health. It is recommended to choose a pair that is labeled as providing 99 to 100 percent protection from UVA and UVB rays. Sunglasses eliminate UV radiation from being absorbed by your retina that can lead to cataracts, sunburn on your retina (called photokeratitis), or even cancer.
Exercise for your eyes
Just as your body requires exercise to function at its best, your eyes need to do some exercise as well. This will help to improve focus and concentration, and combat eye strain.

Glaucoma risk and retinal degeneration progression can be reduced with physical fitness and aerobic exercise. The study findings revealed that exercise may have long-term positive impact on low ocular perfusion pressure (OPP), which is a risk factor for glaucoma.

The researchers examined the relationship between physical activity and OPP among 5,650 men and women. The participants were evaluated on their physical activity levels with detailed self-administered health and lifestyle questionnaires. Intraocular (eye) pressure and blood pressure were also checked. The results showed that physical exercise performed 15 years prior is associated with a 25 percent lower risk of low OPP.

Exercise can also help ward off vision problems in diabetics. The most common cause of vision loss in diabetics, diabetic retinopathy “involves changes to retinal blood vessels that can cause them to bleed or leak fluid, distorting vision,” according to the U.S. National Eye Institute.

The researchers tracked the outcomes of 282 American diabetes patients to assess the impact of exercise on their vision health.

The average age of the participants was 62, and nearly one-third of them had mild or severe diabetic retinopathy. The researchers used an accelerometer device to measure activity. On average, participants were active for 8.7 hours a day.

The researchers found that every 60-minute daily increase in physical inactivity increased the risk of mild or severe diabetic retinopathy by 16 percent. The researchers believe the association between a sedentary lifestyle and diabetic retinopathy may have to do with an elevated risk of heart disease, which can further increase the risk for diabetic retinopathy.

There are a variety of exercises for your eyes. For starters, you can blink. Every time you blink, you produce moisture, which in turn soothes the eyes. If you start feeling some eye strain, simply blink continuously for four to five seconds.

Other forms of exercise are breathing or meditation, often easier to do first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. You can recharge by closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth for at least two minutes, then open your eyes without focusing on anything in particular. Repeat this at least three times.

Giving your eyes a break is a great natural way to improve eyesight. Just remember to avoid eyestrain by looking away from your computer screen, for example, and not watching too much television.

Healthy daily habits

low vision n elderlyAlmost every task we perform involves the use of our eyes – but even our daily habits could be hurting our vision. So use your eyes with care!

Whenever you’re stuck staring at a computer screen for extended periods of time, take breaks to look away from the screen. This should be done at least every 20 minutes. Also, make sure the screen is at least 18 inches away from your face and slightly below eye level. Similar tips go for watching TV.

If you enjoy a good book every now and then, ensure the room is properly lit – dim lighting can cause unnecessary strain.

If you wear glasses, make sure the prescription is up-to-date. Otherwise, they could be causing you more harm. Also, go for an eye exam regularly, so that any changes can be caught early enough.

Lastly, get a proper amount of sleep. Your eyes, like your body, require rest. When you don’t sleep well, they have to work extra hard the following day. If you’re having problems sleeping, seek out methods to help you get a restful night.

When it comes to protecting your vision, there are many home remedies for good eyesight. Start today and you’ll see results, no pun intended. These simple methods are good, natural ways to improve eyesight. Your eyes deserve your care and attention.

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