July is recognized by The American Academy of Ophthalmology as “Celebrate Senior Independence Month.” As we all celebrate our independence on July 4, we should appreciate the importance of independence to our senior population. The ability to live, and enjoy life independently is taken for granted by many, but becomes a source of increasing concern in an aging population dealing with various maladies, infirmities, and incapacities.
As Ophthalmologists, we have many patients for whom independent living and functioning becomes more difficult due to vision problems. Thankfully, many of these problems can be avoided, or the effects minimized. Modern treatment of cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other retinal diseases have revolutionized our field, and allowed millions of our seniors to continue to function at the highest levels well into their 80’s, 90’s and beyond.
Proper eye care requires regular examinations to detect early disease, before symptoms have even begun. This is especially true with glaucoma and macular degeneration where significant damage can occur before a patient notices a change in vision.
In addition to regular exams, seniors should maintain a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and exercise, avoid smoking, and wear sunglasses while outdoors in our bright Florida sunshine. Wearing proper eye protection is important when playing certain sports or when doing certain household or gardening chores, and especially when working with noxious household chemicals.
If seniors practice proper preventative eye care, and receive regular examinations and timely treatment, they are likely to maintain excellent vision, a crucial ingredient to living and functioning independently.