Are you squinting more? Pulling your reading materials closer to your face? You’re not alone! Age can bring unwanted changes that affect your eyesight. Some changes are more serious than others, but luckily there are things you can do to protect your vision. September is Healthy Aging Eyes Month and it’s important to have regular eye exams to spot and treat issues early!
Protect Your Eyesight
Have your eyes checked regularly by an eye care professional—either an ophthalmologist or optometrist. People over age 60 should have dilated eye exams yearly. During this exam, the eye care professional will put drops in your eyes to widen (dilate) your pupils so that he or she can look at the back of each eye. This is the only way to find some common eye diseases that have no early signs or symptoms. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, your prescription should be checked, too. See your doctor regularly to check for diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. These diseases can cause eye problems if not controlled or treated.
See an eye care professional right away if:
- Your vision becomes blurry or you have difficulty seeing properly
- You see flashes of light or new floaters
- You have eye pain
- You experience double vision
- You develop redness or swelling of your eye or eyelid
Common Eye Problems
These common eye problems can be easily treated, but sometimes they can be signs of something more serious:
- Presbyopia (prez-bee-OH-pee-uh) is a slow loss of ability to see close objects or small print. It is normal to have this problem as you get older. People with presbyopia often have headaches or strained, tired eyes. Reading glasses usually fix the problem.
- Floaters are tiny specks or “cobwebs” that seem to float across your vision. You might see them in well-lit rooms or outdoors on a bright day. Floaters can be a normal part of aging. But, sometimes they are a sign of a more serious eye problem, such as retinal detachment. If you see many new floaters and/or flashes of light, see your eye care professional right away.
- Tearing (or having too many tears) can come from being sensitive to light, wind, or temperature changes, or having a condition called dry eye. Wearing sunglasses may help. So might eye drops. Sometimes tearing is a sign of a more serious eye problem, like an infection or a blocked tear duct. Your eye care professional can treat these problems.
- Eyelid problems can result from different diseases or conditions. Common eyelid problems include red and swollen eyelids, itching, tearing, and crusting of eyelashes during sleep. These problems may be caused by a condition called blepharitis (ble-fa-RI-tis) and treated with warm compresses and gentle eyelid scrubs.