This month is Healthy Vision Month. . . now maybe the blog title makes sense. I’ve talked in earlier blogs about different special days, weeks and months that emphasize different diseases or ways to stay healthy. Each of these may or may not have struck a chord with you but I think having healthy vision is important to virtually all older Americans. One study indicated that 92% of those over 65 wear glasses or contacts and, an astounding 1 in 3 have some sort of vision impairing eye disease. Our eyes and their health should be important to all of us.
Before I jump into information and sources we can use to keep our eyes healthy I’d like to talk about something I’ve observed. My mother had macular degeneration in both eyes and her eyesight deteriorated as she became older. Things became very blurry except for some of her peripheral vision. I noticed this poor eyesight made her somewhat disconnected in large gatherings. She found it difficult to connect with people she couldn’t see. She seemed to withdraw and not participate. She loved to read and when she lost that ability she tried listening to audio books but her mind wandered such that it made it difficult for her to stay focused. Her quality of life declined. Seeing this happen to my mother has motivated me to pay special attention to my eyes. I hope it also motivates you.
There are a lot of resources you can access to maintain your healthy vision. Getting older increases your risk of some eye diseases. You might also have a higher risk of some eye diseases if you:
- Are overweight or obese.
- Have a family history of eye disease.
- Are African American, Hispanic, or Native American.
Other health conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure, can also increase your risk of some eye diseases. For example, people with diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy — an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness.
If you’re worried you might be at risk for some eye diseases, talk to your doctor. You may be able to take steps to lower your risk.
Know your family’s health history. Talk with your family members to find out if they’ve had any eye problems. Some eye diseases and conditions run in families, like age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma. Be sure to tell your eye doctor if any eye diseases run in your family.
It is important to get a dilated eye exam every one to two years. It is the single best way and often the only way to discover many eye diseases. Go here to learn more about a dilated eye exam.
Here are 8 things you can do to maintain your healthy vision.
1. Find an eye doctor you trust.
2. Ask how often you need a dilated eye exam.
3. Add more movement to your day.
4. Get your family talking… about eye health history!
5. Step up your healthy eating game.
6. Make a habit of wearing your sunglasses — even on cloudy days.
7. Stay on top of long-term health conditions — like diabetes and high blood pressure.
8. If you smoke, make a quit plan.
Go here to find out more about these 8 steps to healthy vision.
We all know that Medicare doesn’t cover most aspects of eye care. There are some efforts to add vision coverage to the Medicare benefits but until then it comes out of our own pockets. If you are having trouble affording eye care, there are programs available to help you pay for it. One program is EyeCare America. They have helped millions get the eye care they need. You can go here to find out about this beneficial program.
As we begin to return to normal this summer let’s strive to take care of our eyes so that we can see every detail of our grandchild’s smile.