Your eyes change as you age, and there are things that you can do at every age to help your eyes gracefully, and see your best. Don’t wait until you can’t see before you visit your optometrist. By then, the problem is probably advanced, and may be irreversible. Most eye diseases have no warning signs because you don’t have pain receptors in the retina in the back of your eyes.
First of all, mommies & daddies: start checking your baby’s vision at 6 months old, since vision guides development, and prevents vision loss from a lazy eye. Have your children’s eyes checked every year since there is a strong relationship between learning and vision. If your child isn’t seeing correctly, or they have a tracking or eye teaming problem, this will interfere with their academic and athletic performance. Please do not avoid bringing your children in for an exam at an early age because you are worried about them wearing glasses. You can do a lot more harm by allowing a vision problem to go uncorrected, and we can fit children as young as 8 years old with contact lenses. Check out the CLIP and ACHIEVE studies which show how contact lenses in young children can improve their quality of life. Regarding infants, we can fit them with special contact lenses and teach you how to care for your child’s eyes.
In your 20’s and 30’s many of us feel like we are invincible, but we aren’t. Now is a good time to make sure you are doing the right things for your eyes and your overall health. Be sure to eat healthy foods, stop smoking, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from sun damage, and find out if a prescription can help you see better at the computer, driving, or playing ball. I know this for a fact since I was the Team OD for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The better you see, the better you’ll be!
In your 40’s you start losing the ability to see close up: this is called presbyopia. See your Optometrist about doing eye exercises to keep your eyes flexible so they can zoom in and out between close and near objects. There are even homeopathic remedies you can use to slow down aging in your eyes. And then of course, keep getting your eyes checked EVERY YEAR! 1 of 4 over 40 have some level of vision loss so don’t just sit there – do something about it.
60+ years old: Your eyeballs have been around for a long time, and they start degenerating, just like the skin on your face is aging. Health problems like hypertension and diabetes affects your eyes. Half of us will develop cataracts, and the risk for glaucoma and macular degeneration increases significantly. But you don’t have to take it lying down: eat healthy, have your eyes checked yearly, BEFORE you start to lose vision. There are so many ways your OD can help you keep your eyes healthy, so you can keep enjoying life, and watch your grandchildren, and grandpets (!) grow up.
Let me tell you what to look for:
• Gradual loss of central or peripheral vision
• Distorted vision or loss of color vision
• Dim, blurry, cloudy or foggy vision
Most people spend more time buying shoes or watches than they do caring for their eyes. People look at your EYES when they talk to you, and your shoes don’t help you see how beautiful life is! Your eyes are your most important sense: RESPECT your eyes, and have your eyes checked every year!
I’m a firm believer in wellness and preventive care. Like going to the dentist: don’t wait until a tooth falls out, or like eating right, and exercising keeps your body healthy. It keeps your eyes healthy also, as well as annual eye exams to catch and treat problems before they harm your vision. Your eyes are one part of your body where it’s important to have them checked before you notice vision changes because by then, it may be impossible to reverse any loss.