As we shared in our 2012 annual report, the global number of visually impaired people is expected to double by 2020. This is in large part due to an increasing number of cataracts, glaucoma, and AMD cases among the aging population.
A study conducted by the American Optometric Association revealed that a large portion of people are unaware of the systemic diseases that can be detected through an eye exam. For example, 62 percent didn’t know diabetes can be detected through a comprehensive eye exam. This is an especially unsettling statistic when you consider the fact that vision problems related to diabetes are the leading causes of blindness.
While a proactive approach to eye health is necessary at any age, it’s especially important for your aging patients. Recently, The Wall Street Journal discussed the issue and agreed that what you can’t see is the biggest concern. Dry eyes and presbyopia were listed as two of the issues that many patients start to notice by the age of 40.
Dr. Rachel Bishop of the National Eye Institute confirmed that it is when patients reach their 50s that eye diseases often start to show up.
“The most common eye diseases all increase with age starting at about 40 to 50. The prevalence of glaucoma, cataracts and dry eye begin to present themselves over the age of 40,” Dr. Rachel Bishop says.
Here are a few eye health tips to help aging patients cope with vision issues in order to keep their eyes as healthy as possible:
- Stop smoking – Smoking can have a negative effect on circulation, which can already be affected by old age. Healthy circulation is essential for providing eyes with the oxygen and nutrients needed to help prevent eye disease.
- Protection for UV exposure – Remind patients that UV damage is cumulative and, unlike our skin, you can’t see the damage UV rays cause to the eyes. Sunglasses are a must.
- Taking care of overall health – Patients should keep their cholesterol and blood pressure at recommended levels to reduce the risk of developing certain eye diseases. Also, remind them to add foods containing nutrients like omega-3s, Lutein, and zeaxanthin to their diets.
Of course, patients should also be diligent in receiving regular eye exams. Emphasize to patients that this is the only way you can monitor the condition of their eyes and detect eye diseases or other conditions in the earliest stages – especially since many don’t present early warning signs.
Do you currently have aging patients in your practice? How do you help them manage their eye care in a proactive manner? Leave a comment below to share with us.
Optos’ ultra-widefield retinal imaging technology, optomap, can detect many age-related eye diseases and issues long before a traditional fundus exam can. Visit our website to learn more about incorporating our technology into your practice.