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(StatePoint) While you may take healthy eyes for granted, it's important to know that as you age, you become more susceptible to conditions that can impair your vision. The effects of vision loss can be devastating, harming one's quality of life and independence.
Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take to see better and help keep eyes healthy.
1. Annual ophthalmology appointment. Regular ophthalmological exams are critical, especially for seniors. Even if you think your vision is unchanged, it's important to make an appointment annually. A thorough eye exam not only assesses prescription updates, it includes a range of tests looking for signs of cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. Catching these issues early means earlier intervention and a greater chance at preserving your vision.
2. Monitor and treat macular degeneration. Over 15 million Americans have macular degeneration (AMD), a progressive disease which can lead to severe central vision blind spots in both eyes. In the most advanced form, End-Stage AMD, it becomes difficult or impossible to recognize faces, read, watch TV or complete tasks requiring detailed vision. However, new advances are helping those living with macular degeneration. For example, the CentraSight treatment program uses a pea-sized telescope implant. Implanted in one eye only, the FDA-approved and Medicare-eligible device is proven to restore vision and improve quality of life those 65 and older. The other eye remains "as-is," to maintain the patient's peripheral vision, because some is lost in the operated eye after the out-patient surgery.
"Remarkably, within a few weeks after the telescope implant surgery, my mom was able read her newspapers from front to back, every little thing. Thankfully, she is also back to knitting and together we are watching English football on the weekends. It's a huge relief to both of us that the surgery and training was a success," said Jennifer Rowe of North Carolina.
After surgery, people work with a low vision therapist to learn how to use their new vision, practicing looking at things that are stationary or moving. The telescope implant is not a cure for End-Stage AMD. As with any medical intervention, potential risks and complications exist with the telescope implant. Possible side effects include decreased vision or vision impairing corneal swelling. Individual results may vary.
3. Eat right. Certain nutrients have been identified as good for eye-health. Be sure to get plenty of zinc, Vitamins E and C, lutein and zeaxanthin in your diet. While supplements can help you ensure you meet your daily requirements, you can also seek out foods that contain these nutrients.
Sweet potatoes, flax seeds, leafy greens, eggs, citrus and nuts are all good choices. The good news is that these items can be good for your overall health as well.