Health eye care

Everyone over the age of 50 should have regular eye exams, even if they did not need vision correction in the past.

Your eyes may be one part of your body you haven’t thought too much about during your life, especially if you have 20/20 vision.

However, as you get older, you need to be sure to get your eyes checked frequently, as new health issues can arise. Once you hit your 40s, your eyes can begin to change, whether you begin to have vision troubles for the first time or your prescription starts to change.

The eyes are at risk for a few age-related conditions that can change your ability to see well. Everyone over the age of 50 should have regular eye exams, even if they did not need vision correction in the past.

Here are some conditions that can affect your eyes as you age:

Dry eye

Having dry eyes sounds like an annoyance, but it is actually much more. Dry eye disease is a condition in which tears do not lubricate the eyes as well as they should, whether there are not enough tears to do the job or they are poor quality. Dry eye can get worse and damage eyes over time, so it is important to visit your doctor early to find the cause and the right treatment for your dry eyes.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma becomes more common as people age, especially for people with a family history of the condition. It can cause some vision loss or even blindness from a damaged optic nerve. High eye pressure or blood pressure can contribute to glaucoma, but it can also occur without pressure in the eyes. Regular visits to an eye doctor for testing can help prevent glaucoma, and eye drops and other treatments can keep this condition at bay. You may have glaucoma without symptoms at first, so you shouldn’t wait for signs like blind spots or tunnel vision to appear before seeking treatment.

Macular degeneration

If you are over age 55 and are beginning to have vision loss, macular degeneration may be the culprit. This eye condition is the most common cause of vision loss for seniors and affects a part of the retina that helps people see fine details. Macular degeneration may make the center of vision blurry or distorted, but it does not affect the side vision. If macular degeneration is caught early, it can be treated and often the damage can be minimized, so make sure you get your eyes checked regularly.

Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes damaged. The lens becomes cloudy, causing blurry vision, seeing halos around lights, trouble seeing at night, and other symptoms. The damage could be caused by an eye injury or just aging, and it usually takes time to develop. Some people might not have major vision changes from cataracts, while others may need to have them removed.

“Cataracts can develop naturally as you age, even if you did not have vision problems when you were younger,” says Roberta Alonzo, director of nursing at Horizon Ridge Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. “If you are experiencing vision changes due to cataracts, it is important to visit your doctor and get them treated.”

There is no time like the present to start getting your eyes checked. Don’t wait until your vision starts to fail you to head to the doctor. Early detection can be the key to nipping some age-related eye ailments in the bud.

Dr. Amy Osmond Cook is a health care technology consultant and VP of marketing at Simplus, a Platinum Salesforce Partner.