Protect Your Vision as You Age
To help maintain the quality of your life for the long-term, be proactive about protecting your eyesight. The risk for sight-threatening eye issues and vision loss increases after age 45. However, there are steps you can take to keep your eyes healthy now and as you get older.
Keep your eyes healthy
It has been estimated by the American Academy of Ophthalmology that over 43 million people in the U.S. will develop age-related eye diseases within the next four years. The leading causes of poor vision and blindness in the U.S. are mainly age-related diseases like glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and cataract. As you age, taking care of your eyes and protecting your sight is a vital part of overall wellness.
How to take care of your eyes
Consider these simple tips to help keep your eyes healthy and protect your vision:
Determine if you have a genetic predisposition to eye diseases. Does anyone in your family have a history of diabetes or high-blood pressure? Are you over 65 or of African-American descent? If you answered yes to any of these traits, you may be an increased risk for eye diseases that could damage your vision capabilities. Regularly scheduled routine eye exams are very important because early detection is the key to limiting vision loss.
Get regular screenings for hypertension and diabetes. If either of these serious conditions is left untreated, they can lead to such eye problems as macular degeneration, eye strokes, and diabetic retinopathy, and cause vision loss.
Pay attention to changes in your vision. If you notice warning signs like hazy vision, double vision and/or difficulty seeing in dimly lit conditions, see your eye doctor. More severe symptoms of a serious eye condition include flashes of light, pain, swelling, and redness.
Add more physical activity to your daily life. Research has shown that regular exercise, like walking, is effective at reducing the risk of macular degeneration by a whopping 70 percent.
Protect your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun.Anytime you are outside during the day, always wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays. This practice can also help prevent the development of cataracts, and other age-related eye issues.
Eat a balanced, healthy diet. Countless studies have concluded that antioxidants may play a part in reducing the risk of cataracts. These nutritional powerhouses can be found in colorful fruits and vegetables.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help fight the development macular degeneration. Fish that are high in fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines. It is also a good idea to take a vitamin supplement to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need.
In addition to the previous eye care tips, remember to schedule a comprehensive eye exam at least every two years and avoid smoking. Smokers have a greater risk of developing eye diseases. Also, make it a habit of wearing protective eyewear when participating in sports or working with tools.
Dr. Farrah Sunderji, OD