The Macular Degeneration Association found this wonderful article talking about ways to” Protect your vision as you age”. Please remember to schedule a yearly dilated eye exam. Early prevention and treatment can protect your vision.

Here’s how to protect your vision as you age

 By Christina Ianzito August 18
Our eyes provide us with a window on the world, but that window gets a little foggy and fragile as we age. Close-up vision blurs, and cataracts lie ahead for many. Tear ducts function less well, and eyes can get dry and inflamed.

Worse, glaucoma and macular degeneration can pose serious threats to vision, making reading difficult and jeopardizing independent living.Blindness is among the public’s top health fears, according to the National Association for Eye and Vision Research, an advocacy organization, consistently up there with cancer and paralysis in polls of health concerns, according to the American Foundation for the Blind, another advocacy group.

As baby boomers age, more people will be confronted with vision problems. Among Americans older than 40, there are an estimated 41 million cases of blindness, low vision or age-related eye disease, according to the patient advocacy organization Prevent Blindness, which predicts that this number will grow to 64 million by 2032.

So what can you do to keep your eyes working? While there’s no way to prevent presbyopia — the fuzzy close-up vision that requires reading glasses — doctors say you can do a few things to lower your risk for — or at least slow the progression of — other age-related problems.

By the time they’re 80, more than half of all Americans have had cataracts, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “It’s a normal part of the aging process, like getting gray hair,” says Melanie Buttross, an ophthalmologist with Eye Associates of Washington. As time passes, the eye’s lens becomes more opaque and dense, eventually causing blurry vision. This condition is called a cataract.

Just as some people go gray early, some get cataracts early. Daniel Pluznik, an ophthalmologist with Eye Physicians of Washington, says he has “a fair number of patients in their 40s” with cataracts. “The more nearsighted you are, the younger you tend to develop them,” he explains. The risk doesn’t appear to run in families.

At first the blur can be counteracted with changes in prescription, but if it interferes with daily activities, doctors may recommend surgery — a generally safe, extremely common procedure that often takes less than a half-hour. The surgeon removes the cataract, then inserts a clear artificial lens. The lens can be customized to correct vision. Afterward many patients see better than they have in years.

source: Washington Post- Health & Science section