Dr. Rowan, a Reno optometrist, was asked to write an article for the Peak NV magazine that is distributed throughout Northern Nevada. The following is his article as published:
The amazing pink and purple sunsets atop the Sierras. The brilliant blue waters of Lake Tahoe. The golden hills that wander east.
Here in Northern Nevada there are an endless number of beautiful sights to take in each and every day. However, as we age, we become at risk of health problems that can cause vision loss and reduce our ability to take in the beauty around us.
Many eye diseases have no early symptoms and can develop painlessly. The earlier these problems are detected and treated though, the more likely you can keep your good vision.
Some vision disorders to be aware of are as we age are:
- Cataracts are the cloudy or opaque areas in the normally clear area of the eye that can cause blurry vision, dulling of colors and increased sensitivity to glare. Cataracts usually develop in both eyes, but one may be worse than the other. It is estimated that by 2020 more than 30 million Americans will have cataracts. Cataracts can be treated with an extremely safe surgery that is so effective that 100% of vision lost to cataract formation is usually restored.
- Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that affects the macula, which is the center of the light sensitive retina at the back of the eye and causes central vision loss. AMD is the leading cause of blindness among American seniors.
- Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases characterized by damage to the optic nerve resulting in vision loss. Individuals with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans and older adults have a higher risk of developing the disease. Overtime, glaucoma can take away peripheral vision. If detected early enough, glaucoma can be controlled with medical treatment or surgery, and vision loss can be prevented.
- Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that can occur in people with diabetes and is a result of progressive damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. These blood vessels can leak blood and other fluids that cause the retinal tissue to swell and cloud vision. Controlling the underlying diabetic condition in its early stages is the key to preventing vision loss.
To protect your eyesight and keep your eyes health as we age, we’ve put together these simple tips:
- Look for changes in your vision. See your eye doctor as soon as you notice any changes. These could include hazy vision, floaters, double vision, difficulty seeing in low light conditions and frequent flashes of light. Any of these signs can indicate a potential eye health problem that needs to be checked out immediately.
- Wear those sunglasses. Protecting your eyes with the correct UV protection to shield your eyes from the sun’s rays can reduce your risk of cataracts and other eye damage.
- Don’t smoke. We are all aware of smoking’s many dangers, but did you know that includes eye health? People who smoke are at greater risk of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
- Eat well. You’ve heard it before; a healthy diet can protect you from a plethora of diseases and conditions. Studies show that a diet rich in antioxidants can possibly reduce the risk of cataracts. And, eating omega-3 fatty acids may also help to prevent macular degeneration.
- Move your body. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, studies suggest that regular exercise, including walking, can reduce the risk of macular degeneration by as much as 70%.
- Visit your Nevada eye doctor. The American Optometric Association recommends annual eye examinations for everyone over age 60. A comprehensive eye exam, including dilating your pupils, can detect major eye diseases. A thorough exam by your Nevada eye doctor can also ensure your prescription for glasses or contact lenses is accurate and up to date.
By following these steps, you decrease your risk of the eye problems that can steal your sight thereby allowing you to enjoy the beautiful sights that surround us.
Dr. Daniel Rowan is a board certified optometrist in Reno and co-owner of EyeZone. EyeZone is a local optometry practice with locations in Reno, Carson City, Lake Tahoe, and Fallon.