Our eyes are our windows to the world, so it’s important to take care of them at every age. This need becomes even more vital after age 55. Eye exams are about more than just getting corrective lenses; they can also catch serious medical conditions that become more common as we age. While some of these conditions are rather benign, others can progress rapidly if they’re not caught and treated early. Here are some of the eye health issues that can show up on an eye exam:
Glaucoma – This condition is characterized by excess pressure inside the eyeballs. It causes a gradual loss of eyesight and can lead to blindness if not treated. Unfortunately, by the time many patients become aware of their glaucoma, it’s already too late to save their vision. That’s why it’s absolutely critical to get an eye exam every year and be sure to get tested for glaucoma every time.
Macular Degeneration – Affecting the center of the retina, macular degeneration can cause distorted vision and it’s the leading cause of blindness in seniors. The good news is that macular degeneration can be treated if it’s caught early. Your eye doctor can identify risk factors and track the progress of this condition, which is why you shouldn’t go more than a year between eye exams.
Cataracts – As you age, the lenses in your eyes can become cloudy. This condition will affect nearly everyone at some point in their lives but it’s usually treatable with prescription eyewear, although surgery may be necessary in some cases. Once again, your eye doctor has all the equipment it takes to monitor the progress of cataracts, so be sure to schedule an appointment every year.
Diabetic Eye Disease – Anyone living with diabetes could be at risk for this group of conditions, which includes diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts and glaucoma. When diabetes damages the blood vessels that supply the retina and other parts of the eye, they can begin to degenerate rapidly, potentially leading to total vision loss over time. If you have diabetes, a yearly eye exam should absolutely be on your schedule, especially if you’re over 55.
Normal Vision Problems – It’s estimated that half of all Americans are living with some type of vision problem. Whether its near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism, vision problems can make everyday tasks like walking and driving difficult or even potentially dangerous. Even if you haven’t had issues with your eyesight before, age 55 is a good time to start scheduling yearly exams just to make sure everything is okay and to get corrective lenses if necessary.
Being able to see clearly has a huge impact on your quality of life; unfortunately, most yearly checkups don’t include an eye exam. It’s up to you to take the initiative in scheduling a yearly eye exam, so don’t put it off, especially if you’re 55 or older. So schedule your eye exam today!