By Holly Bonner
September has been deemed “Healthy Aging Month” but the American Academy of Ophthalmology. According to the National Eye Institute, older adults are at higher risk for certain eye diseases and conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic eye disease, glaucoma, dry eye, and low vision.
Like any other organ in your body, your eyes do not stay the same as you get older. Vision changes are normal with age, but vision loss and blindness are not. To continue to enjoy healthy vision, it’s important to have a comprehensive dilated eye examination with an ophthalmologist or optometrist on a regular basis.
Here are some other tips to maintain healthy vision both now and as you age:
Good Eyesight Begins with Your Stomach: It may sound crazy, but good eye health actually begins your stomach! What you choose to eat has a direct impact on how you see! Omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins C and E might help diminish age-related vision problems. A well-balanced diet also helps you stay at a healthy weight. That lowers your odds of obesityand related diseases like type 2 diabetes, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults. Make a concerted effort to fill your plate and your belly with green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. Have fish like salmon and tuna that are loaded with omega acids. In addition, reach for citrus fruit and juices that will provide an extra punch of vitamins.
Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk for age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and other eye diseases and conditions that can damage the optic nerve. The more times you try to quit, the more likely you are to succeed. Ask your doctor for help in kicking your nicotine habit.
Wear protective eyewear when outdoors.Protecting your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays when you are outdoors is vital for your eye health. Too much UV exposure boosts your chances of cataracts and macular degeneration. Choose a pair of sunglasses that reflect your own unique style and blocks 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Consider wraparound lenses to help protect your eyes from the side. Polarized lenses reduce glare while you drive. If you wear contact lenses,some offer UV protection. However, it’s still a good idea to wear sunglasses for an extra layer. In addition, if you use hazardous or airborne materials on the job or at home, wear safety glasses or protective goggles at all times.
Examine Your Family Tree.Talk to your family members about your eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone in your family lineage has been diagnosed with a disease or condition since many are hereditary, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetes. The best course of prevention is knowing if you are at higher risk. Start at the roots of your family tree.
Consider a Multivitamin.Do you take your vitamins in the morning? Studies have shown that there are many vitamins that promote healthy eyes, and some may even help to decrease age-related eye conditions. Vitamins C, E and the mineral zinc have been shown to promote eye health. Vitamins with Lutein and Zeaxanthin have been known to help patients with moderate to severe age-related macular degeneration. Always check with your doctor before beginning a daily multi-vitamin regime.
Manage Your Screen Time. As people of all ages are spending more hours focused on digital screens, their eyes are getting an exhausting workout. Eye strain from hours of screen time can result in eye irritation, dryness, fatigue or blurred vision. A good rule of thumb is every 20 minutes, look away from your screen. This can help reduce eyestrain. In addition, consider using a lubricant eye drop during long periods of intense eye use and rest your eyes afterwards in 5-minute intervals.
As adults, we know there is no such thing as the fountain of youth While we can’t stop the progression of time, we can take care of our eyes, so they remain healthy as we age. Good vision begins now. Low Vision Specialists of Maryland and Virginia encourages all of our followers to contact their eye care professionals this September to discuss how they can maintain the integrity of their eye health as they get older.