by Vladimire Herard


Regular testing for pressure, keeping an eyedrops or drugs routine, a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle will assist you in retaining your eyesight and preventing cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and other visual conditions, federal research authorities say.


Safeguarding your vision is one of the key action steps you can take towards preserving your quality of life.


Eye problems impact one out of every six adults aged 45 and older and the risk of blindness grows as you age, research published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology finds.


About 50 million people around the country are on tap to develop eye diseases due to age in this decade, the academy further reports.


Additionally, the number of visually-impaired patients over the age of 40 will rise by 70 percent over the next 20 years to at least two million, the National Eye Institute reports.


Age will clearly be a factor in these developments as life expectancy has reached 77 years of age for men and nearly 80 years for women. The nervous system that dictates vision takes a hammering overtime, researchers with the department of ophthalmology of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio say.


Aging and Eye Health


Inevitably, physical vitality declines as we age and so goes our vision, especially as we hit 60.


Certain changes in eye health such as farsightedness naturally come with age but don’t present a threat. Neither do cataracts, which can be resolved with surgery.


However, other eye conditions place us at risk for poorer health, less personal safety, more injury and a lowered quality of life such as diabetic retinopathy, farsightedness, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.



By age 40, you’ll find it harder to concentrate on objects closely because of farsightedness. This is a natural loss that can be attributed to the hardening of your eyes’ lenses.


You can start to address this by moving your viewing or reading material away from your face. However, as farsightedness takes hold, you will need treatment.


This will mean purchasing reading glasses, multi-focal contact lenses or eyeglasses. You can also take advantage of such other treatment options as monovision LASIK surgery or conductive keratoplasty.


As you reach your 50s, farsightedness truly sets in. As a result, you will need to change your eyeglasses or contact lens prescriptions more and more. You will then start to purchase one pair of glasses for daily tasks and another for reading or using your computer.




As a result, for instance, it pays to play it safe and visit your doctor to determine if your eyes are under pressure, whether you have glaucoma despite a lack of symptoms and if you sustain at least 40 percent of damage to your optic nerve before the onset of vision loss, especially peripheral.


Such damage cannot be reversed if it leads to glaucoma and, eventually,  blindness.


The odds are that you are on target to develop glaucoma under the following conditions:


  • You are aged 50 or above;


  • You maintain high eye pressure or are nearsighted or farsighted;


  • You suffer from diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure or injury to your eyes;


  • You use cortisone or steroids;


  • You have a family history of the condition, and;


  • You are African-American, Asian or native Alaskan.


Any one of these factors automatically places you at risk.


In particular, you can take steps toward improving eye health by speaking with relatives to learn if you’ve inherited any vision conditions. Genetics plays a key role in developing glaucoma and macular degeneration, both of which are common with age.


Glaucoma is best treated with eyedrops, oral drugs and laser surgery. Detecting and treating glaucoma early is most ideal but some treatment choices carry risks. You can consult with your doctor over which treatment options work best.




Cataracts, which are cloudy areas in the eye lens blocking light to the retina, are common enough to be considered a normal part of aging. The Mayo Clinic calculates that more than half of all individuals aged 65 and over have cataracts in their eyes.


The incidence is much higher once you hit your 70s. As a result, over 30 million patients are projected to develop cataracts in their lifetimes in this decade. More medical cases of cataracts abound than those of diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration, Prevent Blindness America reports.


Fortunately, modern medicine has become safer and more effective enough in the past few decades to restore 100 percent of your vision from cataracts with surgery and similar forms of treatment. It is crucial to discuss them with your eye doctor and to have them removed before they progress.


After such an operation, you can now choose to have multifocal lens implants or intraocular lenses to support all categories of visions, eliminating dependence on reading glasses, including post-surgery.


Cataracts stem from age and exposure to ultraviolet light or UVA or UVB. The wisest move you can make is to wear nonprescription sunglasses that guard against both. Individuals who wear prescription eyeglasses are already protected.


Age-related Macular Degeneration


Macular degeneration, also known as AMD, is the eye condition most responsible for blindness in seniors nationally.


Still, as a senior, just as you face challenges to eye health, you also have a number of options for maintaining it.


AMD targets nearly two million individuals throughout the country, the National Eye Institute, also known as NEI, reports. The nation’s population has been aging steadily overtime and this trend continues past three million in this new decade.


Age-related macular degeneration harms patients age 60 and older. It damages the macula, which is a spot towards the center of the retina and the section key to sharp, focused vision that enables us to see straight ahead.


With the onset of AMD, symptoms are few, which means it is best for you to take eye exams as early as often as possible.


Risk factors for AMD include old age, genetics, race, smoking, style of life or any one or combination of these.


Sound lifestyle choices to avoid generating AMD are a diet rich in colorful fruits and green leafy vegetables and fish, no use of tobacco, moderate use of alcohol, a stable blood pressure, cholesterol and sodium levels, a healthy weight, plenty of regular exercise and personal hydration.


In fact, foods containing vitamins A or beta carotene, B12, C and E and other such antioxidants, folic acid, lutein, omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, minerals like selenium, zexathin and zinc can guard your eye health overall and against such conditions as AMD, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, dry eyes and glaucoma.


This includes such vision-friendly foods as broccoli, canola oil, carrots, cereals, sweet corn, dairy products such as low-fat or skim milk, eggs, fish, flaxseed oil, whole grains, kale, legumes, lean meats, peas, seafood, spinach, squash and walnuts.


Symptoms of AMD include straight lines becoming wavy, and with the disintegration of the macula, central vision blurring slowly.

Depending on your state of health and your genes, you may experience central vision loss gradually or rapidly. This could lead to a reduction or compromise of your ability to commit to such daily household tasks such as cooking, driving, fixing appliances, reading or writing.


When this happens, you must contact your eye doctor immediately. You will have to take what is known as a comprehensive dilated eye exam.


The exam will include a visual acuity test for seeing at distances, the dilated exam to obtain a sound view of the back of the eye, a check of the retina and optic nerve for AMD and other eye problems and an Amsler grid to check the sight daily.


You, your ophthalmologist and eye surgeon can discuss how to approach AMD with a wide variety of treatment options should you contract this serious eye condition as well as other medical and social service supports.


Treatment choices include injections of vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF into the eye, laser photo dynamic therapy for the retina and laser surgery for the blood vessels of your eyes.


Diabetic Retinopathy


The National Eye Institute states that a little over 10 million individuals over the age of 40 are diabetic nationwide. Researchers say as much as 30 percent of them with diabetes have not received a diagnosis.


Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition caused by low or high blood sugar levels in which the blood vessels in the back of the eye or retina are damaged.


Of those with diabetes over the age of 40, NEI finds that 40 percent suffer from some measure of diabetic retinopathy. Additionally, one out of every 12 have severe retinopathy that can lead to blindness.


Other Eye Issues


Aside from the very serious AMD, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, farsightedness and glaucoma conditions, as a senior, you may also encounter other challenges to your vision such as lesser color vision, dry eyes, loss of peripheral vision, decreased pupil size and vitreous detachment.


With aging, the effectiveness of the retina declines. You may see less bright colors, contrasts become less obvious and no treatment exists. This can affect every aspect of your life, including your worklife if you, for instance, are employed in a professional field that requires you to recognize colors, light and shapes.


Additionally, the body slowly starts to cease to produce tears, especially for women after menopause. As a result, you experience dry eyes.


If you undergo burning, stinging or other forms of eye strain, you can use artificial tears or talk with your eye doctor about dry eye medicine.


Aging also brings a loss of peripheral vision. This means our field of vision shrinks by one to three degrees with each passing decade. By age 70 to 80, your peripheral vision contracts by 20 to 30 degrees.


Peripheral vision loss can impair your ability to drive safely if you cannot see as well as you once did on either side of your head. You may have to turn your head more often to look both ways from intersection to intersection.


You may also find your pupil size decreases and reacts less to changes in light. This occurs when the muscles that control your pupil are no longer as strong as they once were.


Seniors need significantly more light to read than they did when they were younger adults and are more likely to be put off by bright sunlight when coming out of a dark building than they were before. This can all be addressed with glasses with photochromic lenses and anti-reflective coating.


Finally, you may find that the vitreous in your eyes starts to melt and leave the retina, leading to the appearance of “spots and floaters” and light flashes. This is known as vitreous detachment but it causes no harm.


Still, floaters and flashes could be signs of a detached retina, which could lead to blindness if not addressed immediately. In such a case, you should consult your eye doctor.


Overall, with these challenges to your eye health as a senior, you and your family could invest in a few fixes at home to help you cope.


Safety action steps around the house to accommodate your vision could include the following:


  • securing mats, throw rugs and runners on the floor;
  • using nonskid mats;
  • installing grabbers in the bathtub;
  • placing handrails along the staircase;
  • marking steps with colored tape;
  • removing loose electric cords;
  • locating phones close to your bedroom for emergencies;
  • using rounded furniture over ones with sharp corners and pushing furniture against the wall;
  • increasing lighting throughout, and;
  • organizing medications.






  • The Incidence and Progression of Age-Related Macular Degeneration over 15 Years : The Blue Mountains Study of the National Institutes of Health, Journal of the American Medical Association Ophthalmology,