There can be a lot of nervousness around addressing eye protection and eye health. Maybe your fears are social—you’re nervous people will mock you with glasses. Maybe your fears are health-related—you’re afraid contacts will hurt your eyes or that eye surgeries like LASIK will go wrong. And maybe you’re just nervous about change—you’ve stuck with one form of vision correction your whole life and don’t want to try something new!
All of these reasons for nervousness are normal and completely understandable. No matter what it is, we’re here to help you make your next vision correcting decision based on facts and information. After all, you want to be informed before making a big decision such as this one!
First and foremost, however, you will want to understand how eyes change over time and with age. A good background on the topic will give you a foundation to stand on while trying to decide on the best move for you.
How eyes might change
The fact that eyes change with the rest of your body as you age should not come as any surprise to you. Many of us have had grandparents and elderly people in our life whose visions begin to decline. Past the age of 40 is typically when presbyopia sets in, the hardening of your eyes’ lenses that makes it harder to focus.
In general, eyes change over time—they even change color. As humans settle into their senior years, pupils shrink, eyes get dryer, peripheral vision gets weaker, and you may experience vitreous detachment. So consider that your eyes will keep changing, eye correction does not reverse the effects of age, and the natural course your body will take.
Glasses and contacts
Regardless, you may simply need eye correction. It is wise to start with glasses before moving to other forms of treatment, especially permanent treatment. Contacts aren’t for everyone but they might be worth a shot if you strongly prefer how you look without glasses or don’t like the feel of glasses on your nose.
However, be aware that some people’s eyes get irritated by contacts, and even softer options don’t feel right. Sometimes, the amount of help you need to correct your astigmatism makes the contact lens too thick for comfort, so the softest option doesn’t do too much to make it comfortable.
If you do like contacts though, it’s highly recommended and practically essential to have a pair of glasses as well. The reasons for this are fairly straightforward: eye injuries, allergies, resting your eyes, and some people aren’t approved to sleep in their contacts and may need glasses at night.
LASIK and alternatives
LASIK, which stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, is a laser-based surgery that permanently fixes your astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness. It does this by using a laser to reshape the cornea.
Again, this does not mean that the natural course of life will not take place. You will still be subject to the way your eyes age if you choose to get this done. Additionally, it’s a very expensive surgery. However, if you have the money and see fit, it may be worth your while, especially considering you may not have to wear glasses or contacts once it’s done. Even financially, depending on your situation, this permanent eye care may be cheaper in the long run than years of eye care.
Now, there are alternatives to LASIK, and whether or not you choose to take advantage of them should depend on your circumstance. One such option is Advanced Surface Ablation (ASA). What the ASA does differently than LASIK is eliminate the fine layer around the cornea before the surgery, which will regenerate as your eye heals afterward. LASIK, on the other hand, creates a thin flap on the cornea to reach the treatment area.
Another such option is Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), particularly for those who are struggling with cataracts. A cataract, common in people over 40, is where one’s eye lens becomes cloudy. Vision becomes blurry, colors are less distinguishable, eyes become more sensitive to light, and eventually, you may start seeing double if you have cataracts.
What RLE does is rather than going in and altering the cornea, it replaces the eye lens. The existing natural lens—the one suffering from cataract—is switched through RLE with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens implant (IOL). RLE serves to fix other vision problems such as near- and farsightedness and presbyopia in the process of defeating cataracts as well.
Make sure to consult your eye doctor or your ophthalmic nurse about whether or not LASIK, ASA, RLE, or a different alternative might be best for you. While you can do your own homework and research things endlessly, you probably do not have the day-to-day experience they do when it comes to such options.
Related Content: Why Cataract Surgery Can Reduce Falls in Seniors
Of course, eye problems can develop over time if you don’t treat your eyes correctly. Not staring at bright lights or screens for too long, for instance, can prevent eye damage and the need for things like vision correction.
Being aware of eye health in general, for fear of other problems that have less to do with vision correction, is good, too. Wearing protective goggles during certain sports, sunglasses when necessary, strengthening your eyes with certain foods (not just carrots), and even staying away from smoking are all active steps you can take to keep your eyes healthy. And keeping up with eye-health knowledge is important. For instance, you don’t want to mistake itchy eyes caused by allergies for an actual vision problem or make it worse by trying to treat the itchiness incorrectly. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to mistake pink eye for a stye and leave it untreated for too long. Without keeping your eye clean or knowing how it reacts when it isn’t kept clean, bad things can happen!
What is your experience with vision correction and healthy oculars? We would love to hear about it. Let us know in the comment section below!