Did you know that once, low vision and even blindness were accepted as inevitable parts of growing older?
The thieves of sight are still with us. Here are the four main ones.
The first is the least troublesome: the loss of the ability to focus on close objects. Called presbyopia, it affects virtually all adults beginning in their forties; by the mid-fifties, the decrease usually ends, leaving many adults with reading glasses in their pockets, but no other significant damage done. Behind this problem is merely the loss of elasticity of the lens in your eye, along with the loss of power of the muscles that bend and straighten that lens.
The second is cataracts, in which the normally clear lens in one or both of your eyes may grow so cloudy that your vision blurs. Half of all people over 80 develop cataracts.
Third, you may develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A leading cause of blindness in developed countries, AMD slowly damages your retina, the thin lining on the back of the eye that collects visual images.
Fourth, your optic nerve, which transmits images to your brain, may become damaged by too much fluid pressure inside your eyes – a condition called glaucoma. Once glaucoma’s damage begins, you have a 50 percent risk of going blind in at least one eye within 20 years, unless you take action.
These are the same four concerns we’ve long known about – but thinking about them has changed significantly in recent years. The future is brighter than ever when it comes to the health of your eyes!
We now have new thinking about vision. Exciting new research proves that catching these problems early – sometimes before they’ve done even a tiny bit of damage – and treating them with newer, more-effective drugs and procedures could save the sight of million women and men. Even more exciting is pampering and protection your eyes with smart eating, exercise, and even the kind of sunglasses you choose could slash your risk for ever having these conditions in the first place.
Here is the first thing you must do: You must get eye exams regularly! Starting in your thirties and forties, you should be examined every two to four years until you’re 64, then every one or two years after that – and it should be performed by an ophthalmologist or optician. The eye doctor should enlarge (dilate) your pupils by putting drops in your eyes. This is the only way to find some eye diseases that have no early signs of symptoms. The eye doctor should test your eyesight, your glasses, and your eye muscles.
If you doctor does spot a problem, take action – right away. There’s no reversing the two leading causes of blindness in the world’s developed countries: glaucoma and AMD. But the earlier they’re caught, the more vision you can save. Prescription-only eye drops can lower inner-eye pressure (doctors call it intraocular pressure) that destroys the optic nerve in glaucoma – in studies, these drops have significantly slowed or even halted the advance of this vision-robbing condition.
What can you do to lower your odds for every having many of the common vision problems? Watch for my next blog where I explain what you can do to protect your vision today.
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