September is a perfect time to celebrate Healthy Aging Month since it is time when many people think about getting started on new tasks after the summer. As the years roll on, are you doing all you can to stay active and healthy? The choices you make today may affect the quality of your life down the road. Diet and exercise are key components to healthy aging.
Fitbits and online apps can help track healthy eating habits and steps. Have you set a new goal to walk 10,000 steps a day? Perhaps fresh vegetables and salads are becoming a staple in your refrigerator.
As we look at the components of staying healthy – we also look at regular exams. When was the last time you had a physical, dental or eye exam? By staying up to date with regular medical exams, you can be proactive in changes that may be occurring with your health.
Seeing your eye doctor is not just about needing glasses. During the exam, you are also going to be screened for other diseases… diabetes, cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. After the age of 40, everyone should be tested regularly for macular degeneration, especially if there is a family history of the disease.
Did you know during a comprehensive eye exam, underlying health problems can be uncovered?
These are things the doctors at Bissell Eye Care look for during your exam and may uncover a health issue you may not be aware of.
- Diabetes affects the small capillaries in the retina of the eyes. These blood vessels may leak blood or a yellowish fluid, and this may be discovered in an eye exam
- Hypertension presents when blood vessels in the eye exhibit bends, kinks or tears, and this may be an indication of high blood pressure.
- Autoimmune disorders are recognized by inflammation of the eye which may be a sign of Lupus or another autoimmune disorder.
- High cholesterol can be found with a yellowish appearance or a yellow ring around your cornea. There also may be plaques in the blood vessels of the retina which could indicate elevated cholesterol.
- Thyroid disease will often present as bulging eyes or protruding eyeballs.
- Cancer can be present if the structure of your eye is unusual. Ocular melanoma can develop in the cells that make pigmentation in the eye. Your eye exam can also help detect skin cancer. Basal cell carcinomas can appear on the eyelid. In any of these cases, you would be referred to a specialist.
- Tumors can present with a droopy eyelid or irregularly shaped pupils and could possibly indicate a neck tumor or an aneurysm (Source: Digital Journal).
At risk factors for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) include: high blood pressure (hypertension), smoking, obesity, race and family history of (AMD). AMD is painless and can progress slowly over time or suddenly with dramatic changes in your vision. Early detection is key to slowing vision loss.
AMD — damages then destroys central vision. Central vision is your “straight-ahead”, finely detailed vision. This eye disease takes two forms, “dry” and “wet.” Most AMD cases are “dry.” The “wet” is a more damaging form of AMA that is responsible for about 90% of serious vision loss.
Cataracts are small at first and may not affect vision. But the denser they grow, the more they will affect your vision. As cataracts grow, they may hinder your ability to drive safely.
Just like having an annual physical and regular health screenings help to detect disease, the most important lesson learned is to have an annual eye exam. Early detection of eye disease is the key to healthy vision as you age. Give our offices a call at 724-443-6767 or 724-226-0444 to schedule your annual eye exam.
About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Tri-State Low Vision Services – a division of Bissell Eye Care, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.