How to Protect Your Eyes from Aging

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 29-Jul-2014

agingadults smallAs 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.

Categories: Eye Health
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