Five Things You Need to Know about Vision Loss for People over 50
Problems with vision become markedly more likely once you turn 50. Statistically, six in ten people with visual impairment are over the age of 50. More alarmingly, four in every five blind people are aged 50 or over. These statistics don’t mean that you are automatically destined for vision problems just because you are older, nor do they mean that your healthy vision is going to crumble the moment you turn 50. However, there are a few things about vision that you should know and pay attention to once you are 50 years of age or older.
- Age-related macular degeneration is a concern
Age-related macular degeneration (abbreviated AMD or ARMD) is a condition that almost exclusively impacts patients over the age of 50. AMD occurs when the central portion of your retina (called the macula) starts to deteriorate. Since the macula is indispensable for reading, driving, registering color, and decoding nuances or details, this deterioration can lead to very significant and detrimental vision loss. Being aware of this condition—and keeping up with regular checkups to monitor your eye health—is a necessity as you grow older.
- There are different types of AMD
One of the most confusing aspects of AMD is that there are two different types. Dry AMD occurs when a rigid yellow tissue called drusen builds up in the macula. Wet AMD happens when blood vessels grow irregularly beneath the macula—and eventually leak into the retina. Both types of AMD lead to degeneration and scarring, but Dry AMD is more gradual, while Wet AMD can occur rapidly and is typically more severe.
- AMD is not curable
There are ways to treat AMD and to eliminate the blood vessel growth and prevent scarring. Options include surgery, laser treatments, vitamin regimens, and anti-angiogenic drugs. However, vision loss caused by scarring in AMD is permanent and cannot be reversed. Because AMD leads to permanent eye damage, it is doubly important to remain on the lookout for warning signs. The faster you move into the treatment stage; the less long-term vision damage you will experience.
- Other eye conditions become more common, as well
While AMD is likely the top vision risk as you grow older, it isn’t the only vision problem that is more prevalent among mature individuals. Conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, presbyopia, and diabetic retinopathy can also be age-related and become more likely the further you get from 50. Again, regular checkups with your optometrist are your best bet for maintaining good vision health and spotting symptoms or warning signs early.
- Lifestyle factors can help preserve your vision health
There are things you can do to keep your eyes healthy as you mature. AMD, for instance, is much less likely in patients who exercise regularly, don’t smoke, and have healthy dietary habits. In terms of diet, fish, green leafy vegetables, and especially carrots are terrific for eye health. Finally, keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels down can also help minimize your risk.
If you recently turned 50, or if you are turning 50 soon, it’s advisable to start things off right with a thorough eye exam. Establishing a baseline at 50—and then returning at least once a year for additional checkups—is the best way to monitor your eye health and protect your vision. Contact Weston Contact Lens Institute today to schedule an appointment.