We rely on sight more than any other sense to enjoy life to the fullest. Your vision changes naturally throughout your life. For example, you may know that with age:
- Your eyes need more light to see
- It becomes harder to tell the difference between some colors, particularly shades of blue and green
- It becomes more difficult to focus on things that are near
- Adjusting to glare and darkness can become more troublesome.
Nearly everyone experiences these and other changes in their vision as they grow older. The good news is you can continue to lead an active and independent life even with these changes.
There are three steps you can take to help take care of your sight:
- Visit an eye doctor regularly
- Budget for proper eye care
- Make changes to help yourself see better
Visit an Eye Doctor Regularly
One very important thing you can do is getting your eyes checked regularly by an eye doctor—at least once every other year—especially if you are 55 or older. Some people, especially those with diabetes, may need to go more often.
You should visit your eye doctor even if you have no problems seeing. There are several eye diseases that have no symptoms during their early stages and only your eye doctor can tell if you have them.
Your eye doctor can treat common eye problems you may have, keep your eyeglass prescription up-to-date, and check for eye diseases. If you do have any problems with your eyes, your eye doctor will discuss the best way to treat them with you.
Budget for Proper Eye Care
You should budget for the cost of a regular eye exam at least every other year or more frequently if your doctor recommends it. Most people want to protect their vision, even it if involves a cost. Proper eye care doesn’t have to be expensive. Think of it as an investment in good vision.
There may be many ways to finance your eye care: health insurance, private plans, Medicare and Medicaid may all cover a portion of the cost. Check with your insurance carrier.
Make Changes to Help Yourself See Better
Small changes in the way you live will help you to see better as you age. These simple changes include:
- Wearing sunglasses and a brimmed hat if you are sensitive to bright light and anytime you are outdoors in bright sunshine,
- Improving lighting around your house,
- Wearing safety eyewear when working around your house or playing sports.
Another way to grow older with good vision is to learn about vision changes that occur as you age. By being well informed, you can learn what problems may develop with your vision, how those problems can be detected, and what steps you can take to save your sight. When you go in for an eye examination, talk to your doctor about your eyes and your vision.
Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself and keeping in good health can help protect your vision. You can lower your risk of eye disease and vision loss if you:
- Eat healthy foods
- Stay active
- Control your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes, or other health problem
- Quit smoking
- Make the most of the vision you have
People with certain vision problems, like glaucoma, find that their eye doctors prescribe medication to stop the disease from causing further vision loss. To be effective, medicines must be taken at certain times in exact amounts.
Closely follow your doctor’s recommendations and schedule for taking your medication. Skipping a dose or taking your medicine late may cause more vision loss.
If you have lost some of your sight from an eye disease or an eye injury, you can make the most of the vision you still have with low vision aids. Low vision aids will help you to stay independent. Some examples of low vision aids are magnifying glasses, high-intensity reading lamps, and large-print reading materials.
Another way to make the most of your vision is a type of special training called vision rehabilitation. Vision rehabilitation can teach you skills for living with low vision. Orientation and mobility training show you how to get around despite limited vision. You can also learn ways to adapt your household to make living with reduced vision easier.
Growing Older, Driving Safely
Safe driving requires complex visual processing – abilities that may begin to decline as we age. A loss in your visual abilities could endanger you and others on the road. But you can maintain your independence and drive safely longer.