Better late than never: Eye care tips for the elderly
International Day for the Elderly | Senior Citizens Day
It is normal for people to develop vision problems and eye-related conditions as they grow older. There are articles that state that "while there are less than 20 percent of people above 50 years of age globally, over 80 percent of them are living with treatable blindness.” Research cites that approximately one person in three has some form of vision-reducing eye disease by the age of 65, corroborates this thesis. These statistics are a cause of concern for India’s elderly population which is projected to increase by 41% and touch 194 million by 2031 from 138 million in 2021.
Most common causes of vision loss among the elderly; like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, cataract, and diabetic retinopathy, may be initially asymptomatic. Supplemented by systemic health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes, the impact on their eyes can be catastrophic.
On this International Day of Older Persons, here are some eye care tips for the elderly to retain healthy eyes and vision:
1. An eye check-up (or two ) a year keeps eye diseases away
One of the best ways for senior citizens and the elderly to stay on top of their eye health is to schedule regular annual eye exams. Even though ageing is a fact of life, most elderly and senior citizens do not realise they need prescription glasses until there is a significant deterioration in their vision. During your regular visit, your optometrist might also check for and detect the onset of common age-related eye problems such as cataracts and AMD, enabling treatment at the initial stages and preventing them from worsening. Given the link between the eyes and the heart, an eye check-up might provide timely insights into serious cardiovascular issues as well.
2. Monitor blood pressure, glucose level, cholesterol
A key way for elders to boost their eye health is to regularly monitor and take care of vitals like blood pressure, glucose levels, and cholesterol levels. Left unchecked and untreated, these systemic diseases can damage other organs, including the eyes. The adverse changes in the blood vessels of the eyes as a result of high blood pressure or high cholesterol can contribute to serious retinal damage in the elderly.
3. Wear prescription glasses or low vision aids as needed
Most elderly people need prescription glasses for near or farsightedness. Wearing them not only ensures that you don't accidentally trip and fall but also prevents eye muscles from coming under unnecessary strain. Failure to wear prescription glasses makes your eyes work harder to focus, further weakening eye muscles & vision amongst senior citizens. For seniors with low vision despite medical and surgical interventions, their Optometrist might prescribe low visual aids which allow them to stay mobile and function independently.
4. Protect your eyes from the sun
Elders can be more prone to eye problems related to regular and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Excessive sunlight is a factor in the growth of cataracts; which is a common eye issue amongst seniors. To prevent this and other health issues related to direct sunlight, elders must always protect their eyes by wearing UV protective sunglasses. This will reduce your risk and ensure that your eyes are safe.
5. Follow a healthy lifestyle with clean eating & regular exercise
A healthy and a balanced diet consisting of leafy greens, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are essential for a healthy body including the eyes. Regular exercise provides proper blood circulation and oxygen intake by all body parts. In the eyes, this aids better vision amongst the elders even if the exercise is not strenuous. Smoking is one of the biggest health hazards which affects more than your lungs and heart. One key eye care tip for elders is to quit smoking as it is associated with an increased risk for cataracts, as well as AMD.
Conclusion-Why eye care is important for seniors
Vision issues have a significant impact on those who experience it, as well as their family and loved ones. Studies on visual impairments amongst older people have associated them with depression, poorer quality of life, and reduced social activity. Lack of independence and mobility at an advanced age due to eye-related diseases and vision issues can play havoc with their self-respect. Older people with impaired vision are more susceptible to injuries and fractures. This fear of falling and losing balance and instability can further force seniors to reduce their daily activities, pushing them into the pit of loneliness.
A holistic approach to health means that we need to take care of our physical and mental health, and following the above eye care tips for elders is a big part of that. Support from families and loved ones in the form of acquiring information on age-related eye conditions and getting regular eye check ups are important tools for mitigating eye-related risks amongst the elders.
Visit the SRGR clinics today to get an eye-check up for the elders in your family. Our clinics are equipped with state of the art technology and highly qualified optometrists to give a complete and a thorough eye check up involving refraction and diagnosis of any underlying problems which may require deeper inspection.