September is Healthy Aging Month!
Did you know that one in six Americans, aged 65 and older, have a vision impairment that cannot be fixed with corrective lenses such as glasses or contact lenses? That’s about 17% of Americans that are within the age range considered to be ‘aging’. On top of that, even though the risk of eye disease increases substantially with age, studies show that many adults neglect (or are unable) to see an eye doctor for care.1
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, or AAO, is aware of these concerning statistics. This is why the AAO has begun bringing attention to the need for eye health education of seniors. Let’s join them by celebrating ‘Healthy Aging Month’ this September!
What is healthy aging?
There are many aspects to healthy aging. In order to age healthily, we should take care of our bodies and minds. We not only treat symptoms we already have, but also try to prevent diseases from wreaking havoc on us as we get older. While aging, we may find ourselves wanting to seek help from a mental health specialist to conquer difficult feelings that are hard to navigate.
We may find that many health ailments can be healed with proper diet and exercise. This may prompt us to begin to change our daily lifestyle and habits in order to live longer, healthier lives. Part of healthy aging is preserving our eye health and vision!
Why celebrate Healthy Aging Month?
The idea behind this month-long celebration is twofold: Raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of vision loss, and helping seniors take the necessary steps of caring for their eyes and sight.
Many people who are diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration are seniors. In other words, many members of our amazing community here are over the age of 65. If you’re here, you’re well aware of what it means to have a vision impairment that cannot be fixed with corrective lenses such as glasses or contact lenses.
The importance of seeing an ‘eye doctor’ annually
However, as I stated above, many people are not aware that this can happen. I often write about the importance of all people, of all ages, seeing an ophthalmologist or optometrist regularly. Not only can these doctors ‘catch’ anything that is going awry with our eyes, but they can also help us to get the care we need with a retina specialist when we need it.
Early detection of macular degeneration is key to vision preservation
One of the most effective ways to preserve our vision is by early detection of symptoms of disease. Once vision is lost with macular degeneration, it is often a permanent loss. Things like an Amsler Grid can help us to quickly detect vision changes at home. However, if vision changes are noticed, it’s important to be an established patient with an eye doctor in order to get the care we need as soon as we can get it.
How can we make a difference
Word of mouth is an easy way to build awareness! Talk to your friends! Talk to your family! Tell your children and grandchildren the importance of seeing an eye doctor annually, even if they’re not experiencing changes in vision - yet.
As we age, it’s important to really pay attention to our bodies, including our eyes. Will you be celebrating Healthy Aging Month this September by helping to spread the word?
Do you still drive?