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How Aging Impacts Eyesight

If you’re feeling your age when you’re squinting at street signs, you’re not alone.  

Adults over 40 are at significant risk for eye diseases, including blindness. About 6.5 million older Americans report impaired vision, and that number is only rising.  

September is Healthy Aging Month, which makes it the perfect time to take proactive steps to protect one’s vision health. 

Aging & Vision Health 

Statistically, American adults celebrating their 65th birthday can expect to celebrate 17 more. But the quality of those remaining years can vary significantly.  

Maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity and getting regular treatment for any illnesses can help protect one’s quality of life and independence. On the other hand, smoking, inactivity, excessive weight, and sun damage can negatively impact health – especially eye health.  

Aging adults should know that: 

Preventive vision care is important. Being proactive about vision health is the best plan to keep adults seeing clearly throughout their golden years. Many eye problems have no symptoms at first, so visiting a professional may be the only way you learn that one’s vision is at risk. 

Diseases like age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma can reduce quality of life. They are also much easier to treat in their early stages, so a dilated eye exam by an eye care professional can help head off a growing problem before it permanently impacts vision.  

Treatment exists. Common eye diseases associated with aging, like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration, may be treatable. Presbyopia, the weakening of the muscles of the eye which leads to difficulty focusing, has many treatment options.  

Simple steps can help.  When people find themselves holding their phone or a restaurant menu at arm’s length, trying to decipher the letters, it might be time for bifocal glasses, or multifocal contact lenses. Some aging adults might also notice changes in their perception of color, and an increased period of adjustment after turning out the lights or stepping into the bright sun.  

Support services are available. For the millions of Americans experiencing vision loss beyond normal aging, help is available. Rehabilitative service providers teach techniques to help maintain your daily activities and independence.  

This September, make a commitment to prioritize your vision health as you age.