Eye Care Tips for Aging Adults

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 12-Mar-2013

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Have you noticed changes in your body as you’ve aged? Perhaps you’ve gained a few extra pounds, notice more laugh lines and wrinkles around your eyes, or had to find a solution to cover your graying hair? You may also notice changes in your vision as you age.

Vision changes are a normal part of the aging process. Most adults begin to notice changes in their eyesight once they hit 40, and many require new prescription lenses or reading glasses. This natural decline in vision is called presbyopia and it affects our ability to see and read at a close distance.

Aging adults are also at higher risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma.

Though aging cannot be prevented or turned back, there are things we can do to prevent or slow the effect of aging on our eyes. Keep your eyes healthy with these eye care tips to help prevent vision impairment as you age:

  • Maintain regular eye exams. A comprehensive eye exam is the only way to detect any eye conditions or vision loss. The earlier eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration are detected, the more that can be done to slow the progression of damage to your eyes. Even if you are healthy and have not experienced vision loss, if you are over 40, an annual eye exam is a must.
  • Protect your eyes from the sun. This is as simple as wearing sunglasses while outside can prevent damage and slow age-related vision impairment. The UV rays emitted from the sun can be extremely damaging to your eyes and are known to cause macular degeneration. Wear sunglasses that block 100 percent of the sun’s UV rays. A wide-brimmed hat can also help protect your eyes from the sun when you are outside.
  • Eat more antioxidants. People with low levels of antioxidants may be at higher risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Vitamins C (citrus fruits, broccoli) and E (vegetable oils, nuts and avocados), as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, found in dark leafy vegetables and whole eggs, can help protect your eyes against vision loss due to aging. Vitamins A is also essential to your eye health. To ensure you always get enough, take a daily multivitamin.
  • Eat more fish. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and trout, help keep the nerve cells around the retina healthy. An analysis of nine studies of more than 88,000 participants found that individuals who ate at least two servings of fatty fish each week were less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration.
  • Manage your blood pressure and weight. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, elevated blood pressure can lead to age-related macular degeneration. Individuals who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop diabetes, which could in turn lead to diabetic retinopathy.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking reduces blood flow to the eye, which can lead to eye diseases. For individuals at risk of diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration, smoking can greatly increase that risk.
  • Work smart. While working, keep your workspace well light. A dimly lit workspace increases strain on your eyes. It’s also important to allow your eyes to rest occasionally, especially if you work long hours on the computer. Follow the 20/20/20 rule: for every 20 minutes you spend looking at a computer screen, move your eyes away from the screen and focus on something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

If you have noticed changes in your vision, contact the Key-Whitman Eye Center to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.

Categories: Eye Care Tips
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