As we age, our bodies change. Weight gain, graying hair, wrinkles—each
of these can be a sign of aging.
Vision changes can also be a normal part of the aging process. Most adults
will begin to notice changes in vision by the time they reach 40. Many
will require new prescription lenses or reading glasses. Presbyopia is
the name given to this natural decline in vision that affects the ability
to see and read at a close distance.
While presbyopia is completely natural and can be remedied with
prescription lenses or reading glasses, as we age, we also become more vulnerable to other,
more serious eye conditions. Aging adults are at a higher risk of developing
cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
Preventing age-related eye conditions
There is nothing you can do to turn back the clock and stop the aging process,
but there are some things you can do to help protect your vision as you age.
• Protect your eyes from the sun. This is as simple as wearing sunglasses while outside to 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 cataracts
and lead to 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.
• 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.
• 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. Vitamin 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 for diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration,
smoking can greatly increase that risk.
• Work smart. While working, keep your workspace well-lit. 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 Key-Whitman to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.