How do you preserve your vision?
Your eyesight is one of the most important things you need to protect and maintain in order to sustain your quality of life. It is common that as you age, eye problems and vision loss become apparent because of one reason or another.
In most cases, some life-threatening eye problem affects 1 in every 6 adults aged 50 and above. In fact, a recent report by the American Academy of Ophthalmology estimated that over 43 million Americans will develop age-related eye diseases by the year 2020.
However, because the leading causes of low vision and blindness in the U.S. are primarily age-related diseases like cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy, preserving your vision with the following vital tips will keep you on the safe side.
The first step to preserving your eyesight as you age is finding out whether you are at a higher risk of contracting some eye disease. A visit to a professional ophthalmologist for regular eye check-ups will help diagnose any risks you are pre-disposed to, and with the right precautionary treatment, help limit your vision loss and preserve your eyesight.
Be aware of any warning signs of changes in your vision If you start noticing some weird changes in your vision such as hazy vision, double vision, and difficulty seeing in low light conditions, immediately consult your eye doctor. If you also experience some potentially serious eye problems such as red eyes, floaters, eye pains, swelling, and frequent flashes of light, see your ophthalmologist immediately.
Wear sunglasses to avoid harmful UV rays Too much exposure of your eyes to UV rays increases your chances of contracting cataracts and macular degeneration. But with the right pair of sunglasses, you can protect your eyes against the harmful rays and help preserve your vision as you age. If you wear contact lenses, you can get those that offer UV protection. And even so, it’s still wise to wear sunglasses for an extra layer of protection.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet Studies have shown that healthy balanced diets play an important role in preserving your eyesight over time. Eating fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids reduces your risk of contracting macular degeneration. A diet rich in antioxidants such as fruits and dark green vegetables helps reduce the risk of cataracts. Other nutrients like zinc, lutein, and vitamins C and E also help greatly in avoiding the two diseases. Eating healthy also lowers the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes; the leading cause of blindness in adults.
Quit smoking now There are very many dangers of smoking. And when it comes to eye health, it’s no different. Smokers are at a higher risk of developing age-related cataracts, macular degeneration, damage to your optic nerve, uveitis and other eye problems. All in all, remember that your eye is a delicate body part! Only have professionals like Southwestern Eye Center examine and treat them to avoid injuries or poor treatment.
Ways to protect your eyesight
Here are some helpful tips to help you avoid vision loss from these age-related eye diseases and other problems:
Find out if you are at higher risk for eye diseases.
Be aware of your family’s health history. Do you or any of your family suffer from diabetes or have a history of high blood pressure? Are you over age 60? Any of these traits increase your risk for sight-threatening eye diseases.
Have regular physical exams to check for diabetes and high blood pressure.
If left untreated, these diseases can cause eye problems. In particular, diabetes and high blood pressure can lead to vision loss from diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and eye strokes.
Look for warning signs of changes in your vision.
If you start noticing changes in your vision, see your eye doctor immediately. Some trouble signs to look for are double vision, hazy vision and difficulty seeing in low light conditions.
Other signs and symptoms of potentially serious eye problems that warrant immediate attention include red eyes, frequent flashes of light, floaters, and eye pain and swelling.
Studies suggest that regular exercise — such as brisk walking — can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by up to 70 percent.
Protect your eyes from harmful UV light.
When outdoors during daytime, always wear sunglasses that shield your eyes from 100 percent of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. This may help reduce your risk of cataracts, pinguecula and other eye problems.
Have an annual eye exam.
A comprehensive eye exam, including dilating your pupils, can determine your risk for major eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, which has no early warning signs or symptoms.An eye exam also can ensure that your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses is up to date and that you are seeing as clearly and safely as possible.
The many dangers of smoking have been well documented. When it comes to eye health, people who smoke are at greater risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, uveitis and other eye problems.
Our eyes produce tears to protect the cornea, the clear outer layer of the eyeball. But a lifetime of inflammation caused by sun, wind, high blood pressure, stress and other factors, may cause the eye to produce fewer tears. People in their 50s typically begin noticing burning, stinging or even eyes that brim with tears.
Dry eyes are easily treated with over-the-counter artificial tears or with nighttime application of gels.
Eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and halibut, or taking flax or chia seeds, may help prevent the condition from developing.
There are different forms of glaucoma, a largely hereditary condition that can cause irreversible blindness by damaging the eye’s optic nerve. It is usually caused by a buildup of fluid at the front of the eyeball.
Glaucoma is known as the “silent disease” because symptoms don’t appear until very late in the disease process. That’s why eye exams are recommended every two to three years after age 40.
Detected early enough, the majority of cases can be controlled with eye drops alone. Laser and surgery may also help.
As people age, almost everyone experiences floaters — tiny white or black specks that move around in their field of vision. They occur when the jelly-like fluid behind the eye’s lens starts to break down, usually when people are in their late 50s and 60s.
Floaters are usually not a serious problem. However, a sudden shower of floaters accompanied by light flashes needs to be checked by an eye doctor right away.
Truths about protecting your eyes
Myth: Doing eye exercises will delay the need for glasses.
Fact: Eye exercises will not improve or preserve vision, help your eye health, or reduce the need for glasses. Your vision depends on many factors, including the shape of your eyeball and the health of the eye tissues, neither of which can be significantly altered with eye exercises.
Myth: Reading in dim light will worsen your vision.
Fact: Dim lighting will not damage your eyesight or eye health. However, it will tire your eyes out more quickly. The best way to position a reading light is to have it shine directly onto the page, not over your shoulder. A desk lamp with an opaque shade pointing directly at the reading material is ideal.
Myth: Carrots are the best food for the eyes.
Fact: Carrots, which contain vitamin A, are indeed good for the eyes. But fresh fruits and dark green leafy vegetables, which contain more antioxidant vitamins such as C and E, are even better for eye health. Antioxidants may even help protect the eyes against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Just don’t expect them to prevent or correct basic vision problems such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.