September is Healthy Aging Month, and people of all ages and walks of life are invited to participate. After all, good health in your golden years starts with a commitment to preventive wellness earlier in life. And if you’re already eligible for an AARP card, it’s never too late to get serious about your wellness. As you celebrate each passing year, you should pay attention to the changing needs of your eye health. In Chicago, eye doctors encourage patients to schedule regular exams, even if they don’t wear eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Schedule an eye exam.
Your ophthalmologist will let you know how often you should schedule an eye exam. If you’re 65 or older, you’ll probably need one every year or two. A comprehensive eye exam is an opportunity for the doctor to check for potential red flags of eye disease. With early treatment, it’s possible to delay the progression of eye diseases. It isn’t always easy to remember to schedule an appointment that only happens every year or two. Solve this problem by making your next appointment before you leave the optician’s office, and check that the office will send you a reminder card or email.
Sunglasses are much more than just a fashion statement. They can protect your eyes from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV light increases the risk of cancer, cataracts, and growths on the eye. Look for sunglasses that offer broad-spectrum UV protection, and wear them each time you go outdoors. If you wear prescription eyeglasses, you can visit an optical center to order prescription sunglasses. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat can also help shield your eyes.
Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
There are dozens upon dozens of compelling reasons to quit smoking, including its detrimental effects on eye health. Smokers are more likely to be diagnosed with macular degeneration, cataracts, and dry eyes. They’re also at a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, which can indirectly worsen eye health. It’s never too late in life to quit smoking. Consider it an investment in your future, just like saving for retirement. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Avoid being near anyone who is smoking, as secondhand smoking is also harmful.
Your options for cataract treatment in the Chicago area include monofocal and multifocal intraocular lenses (IOLs). During cataract surgery, the eye doctor removes the cloudy natural lens of the eye and replaces it with one of these types of intraocular implants. Most often, doctors implant monofocal IOLs. This type of lens is engineered to help patients focus at one distance—near, medium, or distance vision. Patients usually opt to have the lens provide clear distance vision. They will then use reading glasses for up-close work.
Multifocal lenses are more complex. This IOL features different zones, each with its own focusing power. In other words, multifocal lenses offer both near and distant focusing capabilities simultaneously. They work in a similar way as bifocal or multifocal contact lenses. Multifocal lenses are ideal for people who do a lot of reading or other close work, and who aren’t enamored of the idea of using reading glasses frequently.
An optic nerve transmits impulses from each eye to the brain. This allows the information that enters the retinas to be interpreted by the brain. The optic nerve is essential for your clear, healthy vision , and if this nerve sustains damage, blindness can result. Glaucoma refers to a group of eye problems that involve damage to this crucial nerve. If you’ve been visiting an ophthalmologist in Chicago for regular eye exams, then you’re more likely to be diagnosed with glaucoma early on. Your eye doctor can get you started on treatments to delay the progression of vision loss.
Medicated Eye Drops
Most people diagnosed with glaucoma start their treatment with prescription eye drops. There are different classes of medicines that can treat glaucoma, including the following:
- Beta blockers
- Alpha-adrenergic agonists
- Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors
- Miotic or cholinergic agents
These eye drops regulate the pressure within your eye, which is called the intraocular pressure. By preventing the intraocular pressure from rising too high, the eye drops can delay or halt further damage to the optic nerve.
Sometimes, eye drops by themselves aren’t sufficient to get the intraocular pressure down to ideal levels. The ophthalmologist might prescribe an oral medication to take in addition to your eye drops. Before taking any new medication, make sure your eye doctor has current information regarding your other prescriptions and medical conditions.
Another treatment option for glaucoma is laser surgery. If you have open-angle glaucoma, your doctor may perform a trabeculoplasty. He or she will use a special laser to improve the drainage of the intraocular fluid to reduce the pressure. Another laser surgery is an iridotomy, which is appropriate for patients with angle-closure glaucoma. This treatment also improves the drainage of intraocular fluid.
An ophthalmologist may recommend surgery performed without the use of lasers. One option is the implantation of a very tiny drainage tube. The surgeon will also create a reservoir underneath a thin membrane called the conjunctiva. The tiny tube sends intraocular fluid to the reservoir, and from there, the fluid absorbs harmlessly into the blood vessels.
Just like physical exams and dental check-ups, eye exams from an ophthalmologist are an essential part of a complete preventive wellness plan. If it’s been longer than a year or two since you’ve visited an optical center near Chicago, it’s time to make an appointment. Even if you aren’t experiencing any vision problems, it’s important to have regular eye exams . You can learn why when you watch this animation.
It explains that the symptoms of serious eye diseases aren’t always detectable right away. You might not experience dark spots or cloudy vision until diabetic retinopathy and cataracts are already in the advanced stages—but an eye doctor can. He or she will let you know how often you should get an exam, based on your family health history, personal health history, and age. And if you do experience any sudden changes in your vision, get to an optical center right away.