Get a colonoscopy
For most people, your 50th birthday is the signal that it’s time for a first colonoscopy screening—and you should know the best time to schedule your colonoscopy. During the procedure, your doctor will use a long, lighted tube called a colonoscope to examine your colon for polyps, which can be early signs of colon cancer. The procedure, which is done while you’re under sedation, is painless and the benefits are great. Discovered early, colon cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer—but it rarely has symptoms until it’s progressed to a deadlier stage. According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the United States. Nearly 90 percent of new cases occur in people over age 50. Colon cancer usually begins as a small, slow growing growth in the colon that, if left unchecked, can progress into cancer. “It is a disease that is 90 percent beatable if caught early,” says Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colon Cancer Alliance. For those fearful of the procedure, which requires sedation and taking a day off of work, other procedures are available, but the colonoscopy is the most complete screening method available because it can identify and remove polyps in a single session and there’s really nothing to be nervous about. Check out these colonoscopy prep tips from doctors. “If you are not doing it for yourself, do it for others—your family,” says Sapienza. While most adults have a first colonoscopy at age 50, those with risk factors such as a family history of colon cancer, may need to be screened at an earlier age.
Visit the eye doctor
Olena-Yakobchuk/Shutterstock “Needing reading glasses is the most annoying sign that says ‘yes you really are aging,'” says Ruth D. Williams, Clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “It’s the first irreversible sign of aging, while others—like weight gain—you can go to the gym to get rid of.” Age-related eye care starts with a baseline eye exam, usually done at age 40, and serves as an important first step because many signs of eye disease are subtle. “Glaucoma is one disease that can develop before the patient realizes it,” says Williams. Other diseases that crop up with age include early cataracts, decreased vision, trouble seeing when driving at night, eye pain, redness, and flashes and floaters in the eye. These are all signs that should prompt a visit to the eye doctor. “A sudden appearance of flashes and floaters can indicate retinal detachment, while trouble with driving at night can be an early indication of cataracts,” says Williams.
When it comes to caring for your eyes, the advice is similar to caring for the rest of our health—stop smoking, avoid second-hand smoke, and wear sunglasses that offer 100 percent protection from UV rays. “The bigger the sunglasses, the better,” says Williams. “Protection from the sun helps prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, and wearing big sunglasses also protects the fine skin around the eyes, reducing your chance of getting wrinkles.” Eating colorful fruits and vegetables is also a must for eye health. “Research has shown that eating leafy greens slows the development of glaucoma and decreases the risk of macular degeneration,” says Williams. “I believe the data so much that I put leafy greens in everything I eat.” Check out these foods that can help protect your eyesight.