Vision loss in Canada projected to increase by a whopping 30 per cent over the next decade. Here, eight things you can do to protect your eyesight.

Vision loss is a growing problem. Currently, it's estimated that half a million Canadians are living with significant vision loss, and with that number expected to increase by 30 per cent over the next decade, there isn't any room for complacency.
Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) believes that addressing the problem involves a shift in attitude around vision loss as it relates to aging.

Instead of accepting vision loss as a natural part of getting older, she encourages older individuals to look at their vision as a part of their overall health.

"At each stage of life we have a range of functional abilities that enable us to contribute in a meaningful way and as we grow older our vision changes, just the same as our mobility changes," Barratt says. "Being responsible and protecting our eyesight is part of how we keep healthy [while] aging."

With that shift in attitude comes a more proactive and holistic approach to our vision health.

Here, eight ways to stay ahead of vision loss.

1. Check them regularly

According to the CNIB, 75 per cent of vision loss can be prevented or treated.

But as is the case with most conditions, early intervention is crucial. Serious eye conditions like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration can be present without any noticeable symptoms.

This is why Dr. Barratt suggests a yearly screening for retinal diseases. "We've done a big study in diabetic retinopathy and ophthalmologists often say that the patient comes too late with a diagnosis," Dr. Barratt says. "If you're starting to experience changes, it's probably too late. So there's a window of opportunity."

Changes in vision between screenings shouldn't be ignored either.

2. Get involved

Your proactivity doesn't end when you step into a doctor's office. Dr. Barratt says it's important to ask questions and make sure you understand any diagnosis you receive. Knowing what you can do to maintain or even improve your vision after a diagnosis can make a significant difference in your function as you age.

3. Trust what you feel

When it comes to changes in your vision no one knows better than you do. If you're concerned with a recent change in your vision, insist on seeing a specialist.

"I trust my family doctor but my family doctor is not the specialist in retinal diseases," Dr. Barrett explains. "The ophthalmologist is. I don't go to an orthopaedic surgeon if I've got a brain tumour."

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