Dancing Sky - National eye exam month reminds us to take care of our vision

Connie Troska
Submitted by Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging

As we age, our vision changes. The ability to see up close can become challenging. Distinguishing colors, such as blue and black, can be tricky and if you didn’t need glasses before, you will probably be having this conversation with your optometrist soon.

August is National Eye Exam Month and a great reminder that we need to take care of our eyes. Protecting our eyes by having regular eye exams is a good start in keeping eyes healthy. Early detection of an eye problem can help prevent or slow down vision loss.

Many people do not recognize vision changes in the early stages. Because many vision problems happen gradually, people learn to adjust and adapt. An eye exam where the eyes are dilated, may be the only way to find some common eye diseases. It is in the early stages that they are easier to treat.

Another reason for having your vision checked is to make sure your glasses prescription is right for you. If your prescription no longer corrects your vision, you are at an increased risk of falls, more frequent headaches and tired eyes.

You can help keep your eyes healthy by following these tips from the National Institute on Aging:

Protect your eyes from sunlight by wearing sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) radiation and a hat with a wide brim when you are outside.

Stop smoking.

Make smart food choices.

Be physically active and maintain a healthy weight.

Maintain normal blood pressure.

Manage diabetes (if you have it).

If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focused on one thing, take a break every 20 minutes to look about 20 feet away for 20 seconds to prevent eye strain.

Minnesota State Services for the Blind offer’s services for low vision and age-related vision decline. Through their Aging Eyes Initiative, they work with community programs and organizations to help older adults adjust to vision loss by providing low-vision aids, free of charge. The organizations, which are found throughout the state and include churches, senior centers, and civic groups, are able to make referral back to State Services for the Blind to help those with age-related vision decline or vision loss to remain more independent and active. For more information on State Services for the Blind and to find an organization near you, call 651-539-2300.

Vision problems and disorders are common in older adults. Treatments exist to address some of these aging-related conditions, but the key is early detection. Make sure you have regular eye exams to help you live more independently.

Connie Troska is a Program Developer with the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging.