World Seniors Day: Five eye care tips for older people

ByMartha R. Camara

Aug 21, 2022

Visual impairment is a natural consequence of aging. According to the National Library of Medicine, while there are less than 20% of people over the age of 50 in the world, more than 80% of them live with blindness.

On this World Seniors Day, doctors say ‘Macular degeneration‘ (AMD) – a disease of the retina – can lead to permanent vision loss. It is characterized by the loss of tissue in the macula, causing distorted or blurred central vision.

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Diabetes-related retinopathy and diabetic macular edema (DME) is another progressive retinal disease that affects the retina and causes blurred or hazy vision, experts say, adding that Diabetes is a condition contributing to potential blindness that is underdiagnosed.

Dr Ashraya Nayaka TE, Senior Consultant Vitreoretinal Surgeon at The Eye Foundation, Coimbatore, said the prevalence of AMD in India ranges from 39.5% to 0.3%, and these proportions are expected to increase over time.

“To ensure better retinal health, older adults should have periodic retinal evaluation with an ophthalmologist, wear prescribed eyeglasses regularly, adhere to treatment, and control diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia. It is of utmost importance to follow a Balanced diet and exercise regularly,” the doctor advised.

In addition to this, Prof. (Dr) Mahipal S Sachdev, Chairman, Chief Medical Officer and Senior Consultant Ophthalmologist said that if detected in time, all age-related issues eye problems are treatable and, to some extent, reversible. “Diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts and hypertensive retinopathy are all virtually asymptomatic in the early stages, but can lead to irreversible vision loss if no intervention is performed. Therefore, the most important thing for all seniors is routine screening eye tests.

Diabetes-related retinopathy and diabetic macular edema (DME) is another progressive retinal disease that affects the retina and causes blurred or hazy vision. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

The doctor added that blood sugar controlblood pressure checks and annual checkups are important.

According to them, vision loss in the elderly should not be ignored as an “inevitable effect of aging”. They shared the following five tips for better senior vision.

1. Don’t skip eye exams: It is crucial to visit an optometrist or ophthalmologist regularly to have your eyes checked. Detecting a problem early can not only protect your vision, but also help prevent vision loss. Even older people with good vision who don’t wear contact lenses or glasses should have regular eye exams. This can prevent infections and detect progressive diseases.

2. Respect the prescribed treatment: A specialist determines if you need to be treated for dry eyes, tear duct blockages or progressive diseases like AMD and DME. AMD can be effectively treated with medication and laser therapy, and patients can use low vision aids for daily use.

World Seniors Day, World Seniors Day 2022, eye exam, eye health, vision loss and aging, age related macular degeneration, Indian Express news It is crucial to visit an optometrist or ophthalmologist regularly to have your eyes checked. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

3. Monitor blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol: High blood pressure and cholesterol, if left unchecked, can damage other organs, including the eyes. Diabetes contributes to severe retinal damage in the elderly. Keeping your blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels within the normal range will ensure better retinal health.

4. Protect your eyes: Avoid exposing the naked eye to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. UV rays can damage the retina. Use UV-blocking sunglasses when you go out, or glasses prescribed by a specialist if you are already seeking retinal or ocular treatment.

5. Choose a healthier lifestyle: Stop smoking if you already suffer from certain retinal diseases. Smoking can contribute to vision loss and also hasten it. Your diet plays a vital role. Consider foods that contain essential antioxidants and minerals to fight free radicals that can damage the retina. Eat fruits and leafy vegetables, eggs, red meat and shellfish. Walnuts, cold-water fish, and flax seeds are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids that can support retinal health.

Dr Sachdev said caregivers need to be vigilant about identifying early signs of vision loss, and they can help patients with frequent check-ups, timely application of eye drops, compliance endless treatment and support.

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