As you age, you will likely experience changes in your vision. These changes may require stronger prescription glasses, or procedures to treat more serious eye conditions. Here are four kinds of tests that you should have more frequently as you age.
Vision acuity can be tested through a simple vision screening. You have likely experienced these screenings several times in your life. Vision screenings involve an eye care specialist asking you to relay the information—usually a series of letters—at various distances, with each eye.
This test can help determine if there is any change in your vision prescription. However, vision screenings are not considered a method for identifying more serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve, resulting in loss of sight. This damage is caused by increased pressure in the eye. Glaucoma can happen at any age, but seniors are especially susceptible to open-angle glaucoma.
Because of this, the recommended time between eye exams decreases drastically as you age. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation an exam should be performed
• Every two to four years before age 40.
• Every one to three years from age 40 to age 54.
• Every one to two years from age 55 to 64.
• Every six to 12 months after age 65.
If you have high risk factors, such as diabetes, heart disease, or are a smoker, you should be tested for glaucoma every one to two years after age 35.
Cataracts are a film of protein that forms on the lens of the eye, blocking vision. Like glaucoma, cataracts cannot be detected through a vision screening alone. However, your regular eye care professional should be able to perform the necessary tests for determining whether or not a cataract is present. According to Eyeconx, with eye doctors in Calgary, a comprehensive eye exam will be necessary for diagnosing more serious eye conditions.
These exams include collecting a medical and vision history to give your eye care specialist an idea of your background. Your optometrist may choose to perform an acuity test before proceeding on to a dilated eye test or tonometry. During a dilated eye test, medicated drops are used to dilate your pupil, allowing your eye care provider to examine your optic nerve. A tonometry test is performed by increasing the pressure in the eye with special instruments to examine the health of the eye.
Because cataracts are the leading cause of loss of sight in adults and, in fact, by age 80, about half of all Americans will have a cataract or will have had cataract removal surgery, it is vital that you are tested for cataracts as your eyes age.
Chances are good that you know someone who has age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. AMD is one of the leading causes of loss of sight in people 50 or older. Macular degeneration occurs when the macula—a portion of the retina that allows you to see objects directly in front of you—is damaged. This will manifest as dimness or blurriness that develops into a void in the center of your field of vision.
To test for macular degeneration, your optometrist will likely use a test such as the Amsler Grid Test. You can conduct a similar test at home, but you should discuss any at-home results with an eye care specialist to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.
Taking Care of Aging Eyes
Studies show that your lifestyle directly affects the health of your eyes as you age. Individuals who smoke, do not exercise regularly, or have an unhealthy diet have a much higher risk of developing these eye conditions. Be sure you are getting the right amount of needed nutrients and vitamins. Studies have shown that the severity of some of these conditions, AMD in particular, is directly related to your levels of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zinc, and Lutein. If you belong to an ethnic group with a predisposition for an eye condition, or have a family history of any of these conditions, you will want to talk to your doctor about preventative options.
Use these standard tests to protect your eyes from the negative effects of aging. Consult with an eye care professional about the best plan of action to help you keep your eyes healthy and functioning.
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