Vision Is Priceless Provides Free Screenings for National Senior Health & Fitness Day
As we get older, the way we see the world around us changes, quite literally. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “As we age, even people who do not have age-related eye diseases and who have good visual acuity may experience vision changes.”
For example, you might find yourself holding a menu or a book further away to read it. You might also find it hard to focus, adjust to light and dark, and distinguish an image from its background when slight variations of tone are involved. While the changes described above are all normal vision developments for people over the age of 60, there are also abnormal vision developments that can cause significant visual impairment and vision loss.
To spread the word about the importance of eye health in seniors, Vision Is Priceless provided free vision screenings to seniors and community members May 30 at two First Coast YMCAs. The screenings were a part of the Y’s National Senior Health and Fitness Day initiative, and served as a resource for early detection of vision problems.
“This year, we wanted to emphasize the importance of seniors being proactive when taking care of their health, and highlight the relationship between preventative health measures and quality of life,” said Ms. Sherri Nash, Healthy Aging Coordinator at the Brooks YMCA. According to the AAO, one preventative step seniors can take is to receive a complete eye exam with an ophthalmologist every year or two after the age of 65 to check for age-related eye diseases.
In addition to regular screenings and eye exams, what are some other steps seniors can take to maintain the health of their eyes? Check out these tips from the AAO below to keep your eyes sharp and healthy as you age!
Women are more likely than men to have glaucoma, are more likely to be visually impaired or blind due to glaucoma, and are 24 % less likely to be treated for glaucoma. Cataract is somewhat more common in women, as well. It is important that women follow the AAO’s screening guidelines and adhere to their ophthalmologist’s follow-up appointment recommendations and treatment plans.
Normal aging of the eye does not lead to low vision; it is a result of eye diseases, injuries or both. Low vision symptoms include loss of central and/or peripheral (side) vision, blurred or hazy vision or night blindness. A person may have trouble recognizing faces, reading, driving and shopping. If you experience any of these problems, it is important to see your ophthalmologist. For more information, please click here.
About half of all eye injuries occur in or around the home, most often during improvement projects (44 percent). The good news is that nearly all eye injuries can be prevented by using protective eyewear, so every household needs to have at least one pair of certified safety glasses on hand.
It’s also important to reduce the risk of falls, which become more likely as we age, due to changes in vision and balance. Consider taking these safety steps around the home to diminish the risks of injuring your eyes:
- Make sure that rugs and shower/bath/tub mats are slip-proof.
- Secure railings so that they are not loose.
- Cushion sharp corners and edges of furnishings and home fixtures.
Diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes can impact eye health. One warning sign of both high blood pressure and diabetes is when the ability to see clearly changes frequently. Be sure to keep your ophthalmologist informed about your health conditions and use of medications and nutritional supplements, as well as your exercise, eating, sleeping and other lifestyle choices.
Our eyes need good blood circulation and oxygen intake, and both are stimulated by regular exercise. Regular exercise also helps keep our weight in the normal range, which reduces the risk of diabetes and of diabetic retinopathy. Gentler exercise, including walking, yoga, tai chi, or stretching and breathing, can also be effective ways to keep healthy. Remember to use sun safety and protective eyewear when enjoying sports and recreation.
As we sleep, our eyes enjoy continuous lubrication. Also during sleep the eyes clear out irritants such as dust, allergens, or smoke that may have accumulated during the day. Some research suggests that light-sensitive cells in the eye are important to our ability to regulate our wake-sleep cycles. this becomes more crucial as we age, when more people have problems with insomnia. While it’s important that we protect our eyes from over-exposure to UV light, our eyes also need exposure to some natural light every day to help maintain normal sleep-wake cycles.
Monitoring your vision and knowing the difference between normal eye aging and abnormal vision developments is especially important for seniors. For more information about eye health for people age 60 and over, click here.