This article was last updated on March 8, 2021.
Eyesight is something we often take for granted, until it’s not working correctly. Yet of the five senses, it is likely the most important to you. According to a 2016 study External Site published in JAMA Ophthalmology, where loss of vision was ranked against other situations, including loss of limb, memory, hearing, or speech, most survey respondents selected loss of vision as the worst possible scenario.
Are you doing everything you can to keep your vision healthy?
Take this quiz to find out.
- How often should people age 65 and older have a routine vision exam?
- When a problem arises
- Once every 6 months
- Once every one to two years
- Once every three to four years
- By age 75, approximately half of all Americans will develop cloudy vision caused by:
- Eye strain
- Most people with glaucoma experience this symptom:
- Cloudy or blurred vision
- Vision loss
- No symptoms
- What is the number one cause of vision loss in people over the age of 50?
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Poor eating habits
- What foods/nutrients are most effective in preventing vision problems?
- Leafy greens (Lutein)
- Carrots (Vitamin A)
- Dairy (Calcium)
- All of the above
- Which of these increases your risk of eye disease and vision loss?
- High blood pressure
- All of the above
- Which of these statements about sunglasses is false?
- Sunglasses help block harmful ultraviolet (UV) light that damages the eye itself.
- Sunglasses are not necessary on cloudy or overcast days.
- Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may be caused, at least in part, by too much exposure to UV light.
- Dark-tinted lenses can make your eyes feel more comfortable in bright light, but they aren’t necessarily more protective against UV rays.
Answers to the quiz
- C. After age 65, you should schedule regular exams with your eye doctor once every year or two. Even if your vision seems fine, don’t skip these exams. They are key in finding eye problems before symptoms appear.
- A. Cataracts affect more than 24.4 million Americans age 40 and older. By age 75, approximately half of all Americans have cataracts. If you have a cataract, your vision becomes cloudy, blurry, hazy or less colorful. While cataracts develop slowly, in time they will interfere with your vision.
- D. Glaucoma is unlike other age-related eye diseases because it is often without symptoms. Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve. This nerve connects the eye to the brain, and could lead to blindness. In fact, it is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma often isn’t caught until the moderate or even late stages. About half of all people with glaucoma remain undiagnosed, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Risk slowly rises as you move into your 50s and 60s. You’re at increased risk if you have diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure or a family history of glaucoma.
- A. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the number-one cause of vision loss in people over the age of 50. It causes damage to the macula, a central part of the eye needed for good vision. Like glaucoma, AMD may not have any obvious symptoms. That’s why it’s important to have regular, comprehensive eye exams.
- A. Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collard greens and Swiss chard, are rich in lutein, which is essential for eye health. See the list of superfoods that will protect your vision. Surprisingly, carrots don’t make the list, even though they are rich in vitamin A. Your retinas need vitamin A, but most of us are not at risk for a vitamin A deficiency.
- D. You are at increased risk of eye disease and vision loss if you smoke or have high blood pressure. You may also experience eye problems if you have diabetes, so it's important to schedule an annual retinal eye exam. Poor diet and lack of exercise can also cause vision problems.
- B. Sunglasses should be worn year-round, even on overcast days, as UV rays pass through the clouds and cause damage. Wear sunglasses whenever you are outside or driving, and especially in high-glare areas around snow or water. To prevent damage to the eye and the skin around your eyes, wear close-fitting or wrap-around styles with lenses that block 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. The darkness of the tint is a personal preference, and the tint does not protect your eyes from UV rays. Make sure your lenses are clean and unscratched to avoid eye strain and glare.
Feast your eyes on these superfoods
These superfoods are especially helpful for your eye health
- Spinach. Spinach, and other leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, kale and collard greens, are rich in lutein, which is also known as “the eye vitamin.” In the eye, lutein will help protect your macula from damage.
- Salmon. Cold-water fish such as salmon are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). This nutrient may prevent plaque from forming in the retina, which causes macular degeneration.
- Walnuts. Walnuts are rich in omega-3s, including EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), another omega-3 fatty acid used by the eye. Pistachios are another great source of lutein.
- Berries. Berries can help lower inflammation and blood pressure, which is a risk factor for macular degeneration.
- Orange bell peppers. Orange bell peppers are a particularly rich source of zeaxanthin, an antioxidant that concentrates in the back of the eye. The higher the levels, the lower the risk for cataracts and macular degeneration. Other orange produce, such as squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes (and yes, carrots!) may have similar benefits.
- Broccoli. Vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage can help decrease inflammation in the back of the eye.
- Tea. Green, black, and other varieties of tea can help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, with antioxidants that are thought to protect the delicate tissues of the eye.
- Avocados. Avocados are rich in lutein, and they also contain beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamin E — all beneficial to eye health.
Protect your sight and hearing
New plan options from Avesis and Amplifon
Wellmark now offers an option to enroll in new vision plans Opens New Window with a complimentary hearing benefit. Depending on your plan, you may be eligible to enroll in a new vision and hearing plan to accompany your Medicare supplement coverage. Enroll today, and enjoy broad coverage to protect your sight and your hearing.
Avesis Vision is an independent vision insurance company that does not provide Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield products and services. Avesis Vision is underwritten by Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company, Kansas City, Missouri. Hearing Discount Savings Plan provided by Amplifon. Amplifon is an independent company that does not provide Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield products or services.