Take Care of Your Ears and Eyes to Protect Your Brain Health
Hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions facing older adults. Almost half of adults over the age of 75 have trouble hearing. Also, one-third of adults between 65 and 75 years of age have experienced some hearing loss. Most people pay careful attention to keeping their hearing aids in top order and don’t hesitate to go to the doctor if they experience new symptoms, such as dizziness or ringing in their ears. However, they may not realize how much even a small change in vision, coupled with hearing loss, can affect their quality of life.
The eyes become more vulnerable to disease with age. If not treated, serious eye problems could even lead to blindness. However, if you have difficulty hearing, even a slight worsening in your vision can make it harder for you to read lips, making it more difficult to understand what you hear. Older people with sensory problems, like troubles with vision or hearing, are less active than older people without those problems, according to a 2013 European study. Those who had both vision and hearing problems tended to be the least socially active of all those surveyed, and unfortunately, social isolation is a risk factor for dementia.
Everyone needs to take care of their eyes, but if you have hearing loss, it’s especially important since you tend to rely more on your vision to understand what people are saying. Here are some serious eye problems everyone should know about.
This may not seem like it belongs on a list of serious problems, but over time, the irritating condition of dry eyes can result in deteriorating vision. Dry eye is very common in patients over the age of 50, and it tends not to be recognized or treated as often as it should be. The condition occurs when the eye stops making enough tears, or the tears aren’t of the correct consistency and evaporate too fast. Over-the-counter eye drops can provide some relief, but it’s absolutely something one should discuss with an eye doctor. If it’s not adequately addressed, the eyes can become inflamed and develop ulcers. Thankfully, vision loss caused by dry eye is usually not permanent. https://nei.nih.gov/health/dryeye/dryeye
A cataract is a clouding of the eye lens that tends to develop faster in people who have diabetes, or who smoke or abuse alcohol. It’s a very common condition, however, and by the age of 80, more than 50 percent of Americans will have cataracts or have been treated for cataracts. Some signs of a cataract include:
- Colors appear more faded than they used to, perhaps with a brownish tint.
- You may see glare or a halo around lights.
- Your vision may become cloudy
- You experience double vision
If you have cataracts, your vision can be improved with a new eyeglass prescription, improved lighting, sunglasses that cut down on glare or magnifying glasses. In advanced cases, surgery may be required to replace the damaged eye lens with an artificial lens.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
Your risk for this condition increases dramatically between the ages of 50 and 75, and it’s the most common cause of vision loss in the United States. A blurred line of sight when looking straight ahead is one sign of this condition. AMD doesn’t lead to complete blindness, but a loss of the central line of vision can make it difficult to complete everyday tasks.
Smoking can double your risk of developing AMD. Quitting smoking, keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level, exercising and eating plenty of green vegetables and fish may help to prevent or delay AMD. Some supplements have been proven effective in slowing the progression of intermediate AMD, including vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and copper, according to the National Eye Institute. It’s always best to check with a medical practitioner before taking supplements because they can interact with medications or exacerbate other health conditions that you may have.
Taking good care of our eyes and ears enhances not only our everyday life but also our ability to feel connected with others. Staying social is an essential part of maintaining a long, healthy and happy life. If you have hearing problems, be proactive about your eye care and get examined by an ophthalmologist on a regular basis.