Caring for Your Eyes
As you get older, your risk increases for developing age-related eye diseases and conditions that can lead to vision loss or blindness.
Visit an eye care professional (optometrist or ophthalmologist) every one to two years, or more often if you notice your sight is changing, blurred or cloudy.
Poor vision can affect balance and increase your risk of falling. An eye examination is paid for by OHIP once a year if you are under age 20, between age 20-64 with certain medical conditions, and if you are age 65 and over. For more information, visit the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Watch for changes in your eyesight
Many changes to vision happen so slowly that you may not notice you have a problem. Some medical conditions, for example diabetes and high blood pressure, may contribute to vision changes. See your family doctor regularly.
Try this simple eye check
- Does it take longer to read street signs when driving?
- Is it difficult to see furniture in a room with poor light?
- Do your eyes take longer to adjust to light changes, especially in the dark?
Protect your vision; seek help early for any vision changes.
See your doctor if you experience:
- Any loss of vision.
- Blurred or less detailed vision.
- Blind spots, halos around lights.
- Flashes of light.
- Greater sensitivity to glare.
- Watering of your eyes.
- Difficulty judging distance and depth.
Look after your eyesight
- Clean your glasses daily with soap, water and a soft cloth.
- Have your vision checked annually by your eye care professional. Schedule eye appointments on a date you easily remember, such as your birthday.
- Wear glasses as recommended by your eye care professional for the activity you are doing. Do not use reading glasses when walking.
- Allow two weeks to adjust to new glasses. Return to your optometrist if you are not able to adjust.
- Be careful when stepping off curbs and walking up and down stairs when wearing glasses, which can change your ability to judge depth.
- Eat a balanced diet with yellow and green leafy vegetables. These vegetables are high in vitamins A and E, and are important for maintaining good eye health.
- Avoid eye strain when doing close work by taking frequent rest breaks.
- Reduce glare. Wear a wide brimmed sun hat and sunglasses that provide UV-A and UV-B protection. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can be reflected off snow, sand, pavement and water. UV rays can increase your risk of developing cataracts. Make it a habit to wear sunglasses when outdoors.
- Give your eyes time to adjust when moving into a darker or brighter area.
- Turn on the lights. Proper lighting when you are reading and moving around your home can reduce strain on your eyes and help you to see more clearly. Keep your pathways and stairs bright.
- Use eye medication as prescribed by your eye care professional.
(Source: Public Health Agency of Canada, Vision care Info-sheet for seniors, 2006. Stay On Your Feet WA®)
Find out more
- Toronto Health Connection 416-338-7600
- Canadian National Institute for the Blind 416-486-2500
Common eye diseases
- Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve that carries visual information from the eye to the brain. Harm to your vision is not obvious until a large amount of the nerve is damaged. Fifty percent of people with glaucoma don't even know that they have the disease until it's too late.
- Diabetic Retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes. The blood vessels of the retina become blocked and damaged. Nearly half of all diabetics will develop some degree of this eye condition.
- Cataract is the clouding of the eye's lens. Early detection and treatment can make the difference between seeing and blindness, so getting a regular yearly eye exam is essential. An eye doctor can detect problems before you even notice your vision is becoming less clear.
Choosing an eye doctor
- Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in the medical and surgical care of your eyes and visual system, and the prevention of eye disease and injury.
- Optometrists are eye doctors of optometry (OD). They are trained to examine, diagnose, treat, and manage some diseases and disorders of the eye and visual system.
- Opticians assist optometrists and ophthalmologists to provide complete patient care before, during, and after exams, procedures, and surgeries. They also provide and fit eye glasses.
Last updated December 2011