It’s no secret that as we age, our eyesight suffers. Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do to preserve our vision.
A few of the most common age-related vision problems are diabetic eye disease, glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. What’s crucial with many of these conditions is early detection and prevention, and eye tests play a vital role there.
Common Sight-Saving Tests
Here are a few of the tests we can do to catch vision problems early on:
- Tonometry test. This is the eye pressure test, which checks intraocular pressure to see whether a patient is at risk of glaucoma.
- Visual field tests. These tests detect blind spots and problems with peripheral vision by examining the full horizontal and vertical range and sensitivity of the patient’s vision. The results can indicate glaucoma, and they can also help catch brain conditions like strokes and tumors!
- Dilated retinal exams. The optometrist uses special eyedrops to dilate the pupil, making it easier to see the back of the eye to check for problems like diabetic retinopathy. This is often part of a regular eye exam.
- Slit lamp exams. Also called a biomicroscopy, this exam lets the doctor examine the eye microscopically using eye drops, a low-powered microscope, and a bright slit lamp.
- Refraction exams. Almost anyone who has had an eye exam has had a refraction exam, which is the basic exam that determines what prescription a person needs for contacts or glasses. These are especially important as we age and begin to develop presbyopia (blurred close vision caused by the decreased flexibility of our eyes’ lenses).
If you’re tempted to try online eye tests instead, this video explains why that’s a bad idea:
Keep An Eye On Your Vision
We should always be on the watch for signs that our eyesight is changing. If you notice anything different about your vision, such as blurred vision, blind spots, halo effects around lights, increased difficulty reading or driving, or other changes, it’s time to see the eye doctor. If you experience symptoms like bright flashes or a sudden increase in the number of floaters you see, get to the eye doctor as quickly as you can. These are symptoms of retinal detachment, and quick treatment can mean the difference between recovery and permanent vision loss in that eye.
Outside of the optometrist’s office, we can also look after our vision by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Staying active and eating healthy foods will help our eyes stay in good shape, and it will also make it easier to manage conditions that impact eye health, like diabetes.
Your Optometrist Is Your Best Resource
Regular eye exams can help prevent up to 95 percent of diabetes-related vision loss and are crucial to diagnosing and slowing the progress of other sight-threatening conditions. This is why it’s so important to schedule yearly eye exams as we grow older, and to come in immediately if we ever notice a change in our eyesight.