If you’re over age 40, chances are you are dealing with some degree of presbyopia. This complex term refers to the natural changes that occur with aging eyes. Presbyopia makes it more difficult to read small print, which is the main reason many older people wear reading glasses even if they don’t need glasses otherwise. While some degree of presbyopia is inevitable in nearly everyone, there are six relatively simple strategies that seniors can take to protect their precious eyesight for as long as possible.
Only Wear Sunglasses during VERY Bright Activities
Most people believe that sunglasses protect your eyes like suntan lotion. New research however is finding that there are over 1,500 wavelengths of light that feed and nourish your eyes. Depriving your eyes of these wavelengths can result in eye malnourishment and lead to visual impairment.
The only time you really should wear sunglasses would be during activities like spending the day on a boat or a ski hill. The water and snow in these activities intensifies the sun’s rays and can do damage to your eyes. Other than water-type activities or other reasons the sun might be intensified, try to keep the sunglasses off as much as possible,
Eat More Fruit
Eating a diet rich in fruits such as berries, and vegetables like tomatoes, helps your body produce antioxidants that fight free radicals – an important aspect of protecting your vision. Bilberries, the European blueberry, may prevent or even reverse macular degeneration. Dark colored berries such as blueberries and cranberries also have bioflavonoids that strengthen capillaries in your eyes to better carry nutrients in.
Remember to eat berries in moderation, because many of them have fructose, which breaks down into sugar in your body.
Other foods and nutrients that really help include foods that contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants which help slow down macular degeneration. Astaxanthin is another antioxidant that supports your eye energy levels, and helps maintain a healthy eye pressure level. Foods that contain these antioxidants include:
- Free range organic eggs
- Wild-caught Salmon
Try to avoid trans fats from processed foods. Trans fats interfere with Omega-3 in your body and contribute to macular degeneration. Stay away from aspartame as well. Visual problems can come about as a result of this Diet Coke sweetener.
Practice Proper Eye Hygiene
Back in the day, eyesight correction required thick heavy glasses. Hard contacts were viewed as an innovation – but required an elaborate routine of lens solution and nightly boiling. Today, there are contacts that you can wear to bed. But just because you can wear your contacts while you sleep doesn’t mean that you should do so. With rare exceptions, removing your contacts at night is an essential part of proper eye hygiene.
You may want to consider dropping the contacts completely. Some research suggests that having your eyes rely on glasses causes more harm than good. Contacts can make the eye prone to infection, irritate your eyes and make your eyes reliant on them.
If you have a loved one at one of our assisted living homes, we have a mobile opthamologist that can come out and see them.
Maintain Regular Exercise
Maintaining regular exercise is an essential aspect of overall health. But exercise can provide benefits for maintaining your eyesight as you age. Specifically, regular exercise can help prevent macular degeneration – a common condition among older individuals.
In particular use exercise to keep your blood sugar at a normal level. High blood pressure could damage a lot of small blood vessels around your eye, and obstruct the blood flow.
Take Screen Breaks
Much of the day for many people of all ages is spent looking into screens – computer screens, TV screens, and especially cell phone screens. So much focus on screens causes eye strain and fatigue – and can eventually take a toll on your eyesight. Remember the 20-20-20 rule when working at your computer: every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to focus on something at least 20 feet away from where you are. This simple strategy gives your eyes a much needed break.
A large amount of research has shown that it is better to just relax your eyes in general rather than try to exercise the muscles in them. Sleeping on a regular basis, meditating and performing yoga, will help you relax your eyes and help them perform better.
Get Regular Checkups
Self care is an important aspect of maintaining good eye health. However, it is also important to have regular checkups with your ophthalmologist, even if you don’t wear glasses or contact lenses. Only a professional examination can disclose potential problems, such as macular degeneration or glaucoma at an early stage – when they can be more readily treated.
As the list above demonstrates, some of the most effective strategies for preserving your sight are also easy to accomplish. And maintaining your eyesight is an important aspect of aging well.