Why is it important for seniors to care for their vision?
It’s often said that the eyes are the window to the soul, but it’s also true that the eyes are the window to the world. Without our vision, we are significantly more out of touch with the world around us. In order to prevent vision loss in seniors, it’s important for older individuals and their caretakers to take steps to protect the eyes. In honor of Cataract Awareness Month and Vision Research Month, we're sharing a few tips and tricks on how to prevent vision loss for seniors.
5 Ways to Prevent Vision Loss
Protecting the eyes is essential for not only preventing blindness but also to help prevent falls and other concerns associated with poor vision or blindness. If you are a senior or the caretaker of a senior, here are five ways to help prevent vision loss and the risk of falling.
1. Regular Checkups with an Optometrist
Scheduling regular checkups with your optometrist is essential if you want to protect your vision and ensure any problems or concerns are addressed as soon as possible. Your optometrist can evaluate whether or not you need prescription lenses or an updated prescription, and he or she will also perform an exam to ensure your eyes are in great health.
What is retinal imaging?
High-resolution retinal imaging technology allows an optometrist to take detailed photos of the inside of your eyelid and the back of your eye which can detect ruptured blood vessels, problems with vision, and other concerns. Problems with blood vessels or swelling can also indicate diabetes or other serious concerns such as cataracts and other vision problems. In order to ensure you’re getting the best possible vision care, choose an optometrist who offers retinal imaging.
2. Find the Proper Prescription
If you are in need of prescription lenses but don’t wear them, or if you need an updated prescription, you could be placing unnecessary stress on your eyes that can lead to vision loss. Your eyes work in conjunction with your brain, your body’s balance center, and other systems to ensure your body is functioning optimally. Without proper prescription lenses, you could experience a plethora of unwanted side effects related to the disruption of optimal vision.
Side Effects of Wearing the Wrong Prescription Lenses
In addition to blurred vision, improper or outdated prescriptions can lead to other more serious side effects you want to avoid, including:
Squinting caused by outdated prescriptions or lack of prescription lenses can lead to headaches as well as added stress on the eyes that can cause migraines. Studies have shown eye strain is linked to headaches, including migraine headaches, as well as muscle tension which can lead to facial discomfort and pain.
Vertigo or Dizziness
If you find yourself experiencing random bouts of vertigo or dizziness, one potential cause could be the need for the right prescription lenses. Due to the strain placed on the eyes from blurred vision and squinting, many people wearing outdated prescriptions or those who have never worn corrective lenses may experience dizziness and vertigo. For seniors, this is especially dangerous, since it can lead to the risk of falling and causing more serious injury or even death.
Another side effect of outdated prescriptions that you may not have connected with the need for new glasses is nausea. While it’s possible to experience nausea as a result of vertigo and dizziness, nausea from outdated prescription lenses can also be caused by strain placed on the eyes, which can have a direct impact on the body’s balance centers. In addition to putting you at risk for falling, problems with balance and nausea can cause vomiting which can lead to dehydration.
3. Give Your Eyes a Break
You may have heard that it’s important to give your eyes a rest from television screens and other electronic devices, but did you know that other activities can cause eye strain that can lead to headaches and other unwanted side effects as well? Allowing your eyes to rest is important for maintaining healthy vision, so take time for regular breaks from the following activities:
- Watching TV
- Playing Cards
4. Cataract Prevention
Cataracts are caused by the formation of cloudiness over the lens of the eye. Cataracts are a serious condition which can lead to blindness if left untreated. In fact, cataracts are the number one cause of blindness among individuals, even ahead of diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
How do you fix cataracts? How do you prevent cataracts?
While there are treatments available to correct cataracts, it’s important to catch any signs early, and to work to prevent them in the first place. Those most at risk for developing cataracts are:
- Individuals with High Blood Pressure
- Individuals with a History of Eye Infection or Eye Surgery
- Individuals with Increased Exposure to Sunlight
Do I have cataracts?
If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should consult an optometrist as soon as possible, as you may be exhibiting symptoms of cataracts or other problems with vision:
- Cloudy or Blurry Vision
- Difficulty Seeing at Night
- Sensitivity to Light
- Appearance of Halos around Lights
- 5. Stress Management
Because stress and other health problems can lead to vision loss, it’s important to keep regular appointments with an optometrist and ensure you are wearing the proper prescription, but it’s also important to manage other aspects of your health to prevent vision loss.
What health problems can lead to vision loss?
If you are a diabetic, poor blood sugar management can lead to diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to total vision loss, as well as kidney failure, heart disease, and an inability for wounds to heal, which can lead to amputation. High blood pressure and frequent stress can also place stress on various parts of the body, including the eyes.
The Link Between Diabetes and Vision Loss
An inability or unwillingness to manage blood sugar, blood pressure, and stress is life-threatening and should be taken seriously. If you are a diabetic or suffer from high blood pressure, it’s vital you also make annual appointments with your optometrist. He or she may even recommend two visits each year to ensure your eyes are functioning optimally.