As you’re aging, your risk of developing various health conditions rises, but your eyes and vision are particularly vulnerable to age-related changes. You are probably wearing glasses, although you never needed them before. Or, maybe, your prescription for glasses becomes stronger and stronger after each eye exam. Aside from impaired vision, there are other eye diseases you are at risk for as you age.
Glaucoma: The leading cause of blindness worldwide, glaucoma damages the optic nerve. It can strike without warning as it can go symptomless until you begin to notice a decrease in vision. Going for regular eye exams can help you detect glaucoma early on as your doctor will routinely measure the pressure behind your eyes.
Conjunctivitis: The eye will appear pink (hence the common name for this condition, pink eye), may feel itchy and teary, or release discharge. You may also experience slightly blurred vision. The best way to prevent pink eye is to wash your hands frequently. Don’t share personal items with a person who already has an infection – including pillows.
Macular degeneration: Age-related macular degeneration is the most common condition among older American adults. In fact, AMD cases are expected to double. The eye’s macula is responsible for seeing finer details. As you grow older, it begins to break down, reducing the quality of your vision. There isn’t a surefire way to prevent AMD, but you may be able to slow its progression with healthy lifestyle habits, such as maintaining a healthy blood pressure, eating plenty of dark leafy greens, not smoking, and consuming healthy fats.
Retinal detachment: The name is pretty self-explanatory – in this condition, the retina detaches from its position. But the good news is, it is quite a rare occurrence. Near-sighted people are at a higher risk for retinal detachment, but regular check-ups with your doctor is a good preventative habit to make sure any changes to your eye are detected early on and treated right away.
Cataracts: Cataracts make the eyes’ lens cloudy. This condition is more common in smokers, people who experience excessive sun exposure, or those who suffer a trauma. Fifty percent of seniors over the age of 80 have cataracts, but the condition is common even in those over 40. Cataracts can be safely treated surgically, and although there is no definite way to prevent the condition, not smoking, wearing sunglasses, and protecting your eyes from trauma can help.