Colin McCannel, M.D., a retina specialist and medical director of the Jules Stein Eye Center, Santa Monica, and D. Rex Hamilton, M.D., director of the UCLA Laser Refractive Center, urge people to protect their eyes from bright sunlight as a way to reduce the progression of cataracts and the risk of macular degeneration. It also is important for patients with diabetes to have an annual eye exam and immediately ask their doctor to assess any vision complaints.
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UCLA Health answered
Laura Fine, Ophthalmology, answeredAlthough aging puts people at greater risk for serious eye disease and other eye problems, loss of sight need not go hand in hand with growing older. Practical, preventive measures can help protect against devastating impairment. An estimated 40% to 50% of all blindness can be avoided or treated, mainly through regular visits to a vision specialist.
Regular eye exams are the cornerstone of visual health as people age. Individuals who have a family history of eye disease or other risk factors should have more frequent exams. Don't wait until your vision deteriorates to have an eye exam. One eye can often compensate for the other while an eye condition progresses. Frequently, only an exam can detect eye disease in its earliest stages.
You can take other steps on your own. First, if you smoke, stop. Smoking increases the risk of several eye disorders, including age-related macular degeneration. Next, take a look at your diet. Maintaining a nutritious diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables and minimal saturated fats and hydrogenated oils, promotes sound health and may boost your resistance to eye disease. Wearing sunglasses and hats is important for people of any age. Taking the time to learn about the aging eye and recognizing risks and symptoms can alert you to the warning signs of vision problems.
Although eyestrain, spending many hours in front of a television or computer screen, or working in poor light does not cause harmful medical conditions, they can tire the eyes and, ultimately, their owner. The eyes are priceless and deserve to be treated with care and respect -- and that is as true for the adult of 80 as it is for the teenager of 18.