Tips for Healthy Aging
September is National Healthy Aging Month an effort to recognize aging adults. The Healthy Aging® organization was created over 25 years ago to draw attention to the importance of healthy lifestyles for adults, 45-plus. With proper diet and exercise and regular health screenings, each generation is proving that many older adults are vibrant, passionate, and not the image of old age at all. From the Greatest Generation (those now over 93), the Silent Generation (those between 75 and 92), and Baby Boomers (56 to 74) to Gen-Xers (40 to 55), individuals are determined to remain active by setting healthy goals.
As part of those goals, we want to point out some advantages of annual exams and health visits. When it comes to your vision many diseases can be slowed down, stopped, or even reversed if caught early. Having an annual comprehensive eye exam that includes dilation helps to give a baseline for your doctor to better be able to notice changes in your eyes.
Are you squinting a little more to read labels or catch that email on your phone? You’re not alone. As you age, it’s normal to notice changes in your vision. According to the National Eye Institute, some changes are normal, however, some may be cause for concern.
As we age, it’s normal to:
- Lose focus, find it harder to focus vision up close.
- Find it challenging to distinguish colors, such as blue from black, or to see where an object ends and its background begins.
- Need more light to see well and more time to adjust to leaving a dark room and going into a brightly lit room.
Actual vision loss is not a normal part of aging.
If your eyes aren’t giving you any discomfort, they may become a second thought. However, a condition called dry eye can become unpleasant, painful, and create a gritty feeling as well as blurred vision. Based on data from the National Health and Wellness Survey, 6.8 percent of the United States adult population (approximately 16.4 million people) have been diagnosed with Dry Eye Disease with women more likely to develop dry eyes after menopause.
Certain medical conditions can impact our tear function, triggering dry eye — among them, systemic autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus), as well as diabetes, strokes, and thyroid problems. Antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medication, and hormone replacement therapy to relieve symptoms of menopause can also lead to dry eyes.
Other types of eye diseases that appear as we age can include age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and Glaucoma.
Are you ready to take control of your health? Here are some tips.
- Stop smoking.
- Maintain normal blood pressure.
- Control diabetes (if you have it).
- Wear sunglasses and a brimmed hat any time you are outside in bright sunshine.
- Eat a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish.
- Wear protective eyewear when working around your house or playing sports.
Vision loss is not always immediately noticeable. Many times an individual can lose a significant amount of vision before it becomes noticeable. When vision loss is detected early, the person stands a much greater chance of being able to slow down or even prevent their vision loss.
Medical screenings are important too. Annual physicals, bloodwork, and regular cancer screenings can be a pivotal point of identifying a problem and taking the proper steps to treat it. These screenings also provide peace of mind that you are as healthy as you can be.
Diet and exercise also play in role in healthy aging. It’s easy to come home from a long day at the office, run through the take out window and grab a quick bite. Taking time to plan and cook meals on the weekend allows for better eating habits and healthier food all around.
Put regular exercise into your routine that will help shed some unwanted pounds. Take a walk at lunch or right after work if you can. As we grow older, gone are the responsibilities of running kids to their various activities. Make taking care of yourself the priority and put exercise into your calendar.
While we, at Bissell Eye Care, focus on vision and helping our patients to see to the best of their ability, we want to stress the importance of not just routine eye appointments, but all suggested medical appointments and screenings. As we age it becomes more important than ever to take care of yourself. The quality of our lives as we age will depend on what we do today. Stay positive. Try to think beyond yourself. Sure, these are complicated, unsettling times but you can use these days to work on your own health as well as to support your friends, neighbors, and family.
About Bissell Eye Care: John D. Bissell, OD owns and operates Bissell Eye Care servicing Northern Pittsburgh and Alle-Kiski Valley regions. With two locations to treat patients, we offer evening and Saturday appointments. Bissell Eye Care provides comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family beginning as early as 6 months, ocular disease detection and treatment, eyeglasses, sunglasses, activewear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. We accept most types of vision and health insurance plans. For more information, visit bisselleyecare.com or call our Bakerstown Office at 724-443-6767 or Natrona Heights office at 724-226-0444.