One in six Americans age 65 and older have a vision impairment that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. The risk of eye disease increases with age, yet many older adults neglect to see an ophthalmologist for care. To bring attention to taking care of our eyes as we age, the American Academy of Ophthalmology celebrates Healthy Aging Month to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of vision loss – and steps to help seniors take care of their sight. Aging is a process that brings about many opportunities and changes, from major transformations such as becoming a grandparent or going back to school, to simple lifestyle changes like starting a new exercise program.
Take stock of your eye health to make sure your eyes are healthy and you are seeing your best.
While vision loss and blindness are not a normal part of aging, some vision changes such as losing focus, having trouble distinguishing between colors such as blue and black, and needing more light to see well are common. These changes can often be corrected with contact lenses or glasses and improved lighting.
People are also at higher risk for vision loss from certain eye diseases and conditions as they age, including the following:
• Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which gradually destroys the macula (the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision)
• Cataract, a clouding of the lens in the eye
• Diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that damages blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye)
• Glaucoma, a group of diseases that can cause fluid and pressure to build up in the eye and damage the optic nerve
• Low vision, a visual impairment that cannot be corrected by regular glasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery that interferes with the ability to perform everyday activities
• Dry eye, a condition that occurs when the eye does not produce tears properly or when tears evaporate too quickly
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