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NYC Office of Actuary NYC Department for the Aging
Eye Health

Aging and Your Eyes

Don’t take your eyesight for granted. Feeling good and living life to its fullest means taking good care of your eyes. Even if you enjoy relatively good vision now, visiting your eye care professional once a year is the best thing you can do to care for your eyes. Lots of age-related eye diseases and conditions have no warning signs or symptoms. In fact, the only way to detect them before they become serious and cause vision loss is through a comprehensive eye exam. Fortunately, if your eye care professional catches and treats these conditions early, your eyesight can be protected.

Five Steps to Safeguard Your Eyesight

  • Have regular physical exams by your doctor to check for diseases like diabetes. Such diseases can cause eye problems if not treated.
  • Have a complete eye exam with an eye professional every 1 or 2 years. The eye care professional should put drops in your eyes to enlarge (dilate) your pupils. This is the only way to find some eye diseases, such as glaucoma, that have no early signs or symptoms. The eye care professional should check your eyesight, your glasses and your eye muscles.
  • Find out if you are at high-risk for vision loss. Do you have a family history of diabetes or eye disease? If so, you need to have the dilated eye exam every year.
  • See an eye professional at once if you have any loss or dimness of eyesight, eye pain, fluid coming from the eye, double vision, redness, or swelling of your eye or eyelid.
  • Wear sunglasses and a hat with a wide brim when outside. This will protect eyes from too much sunlight, which can raise your risk of getting cataracts.
Learn more about "Your Aging Eyes" (in pdf)
Read about free eye exams/care for seniors who qualify

Aging and Your Hearing

Hearing loss can affect your life in many ways. People with hearing loss may find it difficult to have a conversation with friends and family. They may also have trouble understanding a doctor's advice, responding to warnings and hearing doorbells and alarms. Men are more likely to experience hearing loss than women. It's important that you don't ignore hearing problems.

See your doctor if you:

  • Have trouble hearing over the telephone.
  • Find it hard to follow conversations when two or more people are talking.
  • Often ask people to repeat what they are saying.
  • Need to turn up the TV volume so loud that others complain.
  • Have a problem hearing because of background noise.
  • Think that others seem to mumble.
  • Can't understand when women and children speak to you.

Some ways you can protect your hearing:

  • Avoid noises at or above 85 decibels in loudness. These include noises from gas lawnmowers, snowblowers, motorcycles, firecrackers and loud music. Lower the volume on personal stereo systems and televisions. When you are involved in a loud activity wear ear plugs. If you experience tinnitus or have trouble hearing after noise exposure, then you have been exposed to too much noise.
  • If earwax blockage is a problem for you, ear, nose and throat doctors recommend using mild treatments such as mineral oil, body oil, glycerin or commercial ear drops to soften earwax. However, if you suspect you have a hole in your eardrum, you should consult a doctor before using such products.
  • Wash your hands frequently and get a flu shot every year to help stave off flu-related ear infections. If you still get an ear infection, see a doctor immediately.
  • If you take medications, ask your doctor if your medicine is ototoxic, or damaging to the ear. Ask if other drugs can be used instead, or if the dose can be safely reduced.
Read more about hearing loss