We know that it’s very likely our vision will begin to deteriorate as we age, and many of us will need to wear reading glasses at some point in later life, if not before. But looking after your eyes should be high on your list of health and wellbeing maintenance.
Aside from making it difficult to read, vision problems can lead to a higher risk of falls, driving accidents & disorientation as well as making day-to-day life that bit harder.
So, the best way to see to it that your eyes are in good health, is to regularly have them checked at the optician, where poor vision and common health issues can be picked up and treated before they become a problem.
What eye conditions might I suffer from as I age?
The most common conditions that affect our eyes as we age are:
- macular degeneration
Some conditions like glaucoma will have few, or no, symptoms but can eventually lead to sight loss. So regular checks are important to catch them early.
When should I have my eyes tested?
As a rule, you should book an eye test every two years while your eye health is in good shape. See this as an important part of your general health checks and MOT - like having a smear test, or going to the dentist for a check up. Put it in your diary and make sure you stick to it.
Your optician will be able to pick up any issues that may arise with your eyes - but also with your health in general.
You might be surprised to hear that your optician can often be the first to detect conditions like diabetes, arthritis, dementia, cardiovascular disease and tumours. So it’s really important that if you notice any changes in your vision you should have it checked as soon as possible.
Is an eye test expensive?
A basic eye test is reasonably inexpensive at around £20 - £30. Everyone over the age of 60 is entitled to a free eye test every 2 years, and if you suffer from certain medical conditions (including diabetes) you will be given free, regular eye tests.
You could also be eligible for free or discounted glasses, if you are on a low income.
Top tips for keeping your eyes healthy
As well as regularly having your eyes tested you should:
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun.
- Eat healthily! Lots of fresh fruit and veg in your diet is great for your overall health as well as for keeping your eyes in tip top shape.
- Stop smoking! Smoking is harmful to eyes – research has shown that smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. Cigarette smoke irritates the eyes and will worsen dry eyes.
Extra visual aids to help with reading
If you’re struggling to read or see the details on your computer screen or television then there are a number of great optical and visual aids and gadgets that you can use to help improve your vision and keep you living independently.
- computer screen magnifiers
- Hand held magnifying glass for reading
- big button telephones
- Large digit watches
- large print books and newspapers
- talking books
- Nail clippers with magnifying glass
- large print playing cards and board games
- screen readers
- talking watches
- As well as these you should ensure your at-home lighting is good enough to help you see better. Simple things like opening curtains and blinds to let sunlight in during the day and using a good flexible reading lamp in the evenings will help enormously.
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