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Aging and Vision Loss

Vision Loss with Aging By the time you reach age 70, you will most likely will have some degree of eye problems. How serious these problems are will depend on a number of factors including:

  • Overall health
  • Genetics
  • Nutrition
  • Habits that relate to eye care, both bad and good

Even if you have a high risk of developing vision problems, there are some important adjustments you can make that will help you to live independently for as long as possible, while still being safe and healthy.

Keep the eyes healthy to keep vision sharp
One of the best ways to deal with vision loss is to try to prevent it from happening in the first place. The first step to having healthy eyes for life is getting regular eye exams. How often you need to see the eye doctor will depend on the type of eye condition that you have (or are at risk for) and other health problems you have that could affect your eyes, such as diabetes. Other ways to protect your vision include:

  • Don't smoke. Smoking is a major risk factor for a number of health conditions including those that affect vision.

  • Eat a healthy and well balanced diet. Yours should include fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats, especially from nuts.

  • Consider taking a supplement specifically formulated for eye health. (Make sure you consult your doctor first, as these supplements can exacerbate some conditions and can even be toxic in combination with certain medications).

  • Wear sunglasses with 100% UVA/UVB protection whenever you're outdoors, even on cloudy days.

  • Always wear safety glasses during any jobs or activities that could cause trauma to the eye.

  • If you notice any problems with your vision or your eyes, report this to your eye doctor as soon as possible. You should also learn which warning signs are medical emergencies that require immediate attention.

  • Be aware of the types of medications that can possibly affect vision. A number of medicines commonly given to seniors for conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, congestive heart failure, ulcers, high blood pressure, angina, thyroid problems or others can cause a range of vision issues such as blurred vision, difficulty distinguishing colors, photosensitivity and more.

Low vision adaptive aids
There are a number of adaptive aids that can be used to allow those with low or limited vision to continue to enjoy their favorite activities. For instance, magnifiers can help people to read books, magazines, recipes and even the computer screen. Other tools can also help, including computer programs that read what is on the screen aloud and audio books. Special, hand-held magnifiers can be used by those who are out and about shopping and may need help reading a label. Your eye care professional can help you find and choose the right low vision adaptive aids for your needs, and some may even be covered by your insurance. (Speak to your insurance agent if you have any questions about what is and is not covered by your individual policy.)

Some people who have low vision and other vision related problems also have problems with light sensitivity and glare. If this is a problem for you, then special sunglasses might be necessary so that you can protect your eyes and protect whatever vision you have left. Blue blocker glasses can help reduce some of the glare caused by bright lights. Darker glasses may also be beneficial for this purpose as well.

Safety around the house
There are a number of things you can do in and around the home to keep someone with low vision as safe and independent as possible. These include:

  • Installing lights along dark hallways, staircases and other areas where there is a high risk of falls and other accidents.

  • Using motion sensing night lights in high traffic areas, such as on the way to the bathroom.

  • Marking doorways with bright colors so that it is easier to find the way around the home.

  • Keeping walkways and pathways as clear and clutter-free as possible.

  • Removing any low furniture, throw rugs and other décor that could be a trip hazard.

  • Keeping small animals where they won't be underfoot. Pets like cats and small dogs can be a major trip hazard as well.

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