Keeping Your Peepers Properly
As we age, we often see things differently, and I’m not talking just a change in our viewpoint or looking at the world with the wisdom age and experience bring. No, what I mean in this sense is that we see things differently. Time and living take their toll on our eyes, and our eyesight pays the price. Keeping your eyesight healthy as you age is not a complicated process. It involves regular visits to the eye doctor, but otherwise, it’s not a big deal. Keeping your eyes healthy and your eyesight crisp and clear is.
How often should you see the eye doctor?
That depends on your age, but since we’re talking about getting older, let’s address the over-40 crowd. You should see you optometrist or ophthalmologist when you hit forty, regardless of when you went last. That’s because 40 is the right age for the start of some of the more insidious eyesight problems, like cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. The earlier low vision therapies can begin, the more successful they tend to be, and the longer your eyesight will go unaffected. Believe it or not, the early screenings of your eyes can also give you a heads up for other health problems that may not be showing up in other symptoms yet. Risks for conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease can all be indicated by examining the blood vessels in the eyes themselves. So, not only can you save your eyesight by seeing the optometrist, you might just save yourself from one of the 4 biggest causes of death in the Western world.
After your 40th birthday visit (you don’t really have to go on your birthday–just go sometime that year) you should see the eye doctor at least once every year or two. If you wear some sort of corrective lenses, you’ll want to make sure you receive an annual checkup. If something does show up at your Fabulously-40 visit, you’ll want to follow up as your doctor recommends. They know what’s best, after all.
How can an eye exam predict my risk for heart disease or stroke?
Glad you asked! A confocal microscope can actually see inside the blood vessels of your eye. By examining the condition of these tiny little blood vessels, you optometrist can see if any damage or blockage have already occurred. Being some of the smallest vessels in the body, the vessels in the eye react sooner to harmful conditions, giving you a heads up well before other symptoms appear.
What happens if a problem is found?
That depends on the problem. Diabetics often have to have laser coagulation, because the disease causes the blood vessels to break and leak blood into the eye. This is done with an ND YAG laser. It’s a simple procedure done in the office. You’ll be able to drive yourself home afterward; it’s that uncomplicated. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, another form of laser therapy can relieve the pressure in the eye and alleviate your symptoms. Again, this is usually performed in the doctor’s office. You may need some help getting home if both eyes are treated at once, but it’s not a big to-do either.
So, as you can see, the proper care and keeping of your peepers isn’t anything to lose sleep over. Just keep a clear head and a plan of action in place and you’ll be seeing things in a whole new light!