Do you want to keep you aging eyes healthy? Here are eight simple steps to ensuring your best possible vision at age 60 and for the decades beyond.
Be on the lookout for warning signs of changes in your vision. If you start suffering double vision, difficulty adjusting to low light or bright light, or if you see floaters, flashes, or have eye pain or swelling, see your doctor as soon as possible. All of these symptoms in aging eyes could suggest a serious eye condition needing medical attention.
Have regular eye exams to check for high blood pressure and diabetes. The combination of high blood pressure and diabetes can put unusual stress on the tiny blood vessels serving the retina, making them twist and turn, and, eventually leak, so that areas of the retina can die from lack of nutrients and oxygen. Getting high blood pressure and diabetes under control as soon as possible prevents the progression of retinopathy.
Find out if your family history puts you at higher risk for certain kinds of eye disease. Medical research has found a genetic link for nearly every kind of eye disease. A family history of diabetes, of course, puts you at higher risk for diabetic retinopathy. Age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts are also linked to family history. Persons of African-American descent are at increased risk for glaucoma, and persons of northern European descent are at increased risk for macular degeneration.
Protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Special coatings on lenses offer you all the UV protection you need. Sunglasses without UV filters, however, actually increase your risk of eye damage. This is because the pupil of your eye opens more widely to admit light, and without the UV filter, more of the damaging spectrum of sunlight falls on the eye.
Eat a healthy diet with lots of plant-derived antioxidants and n-3 essential fatty acids. Epidemiological research finds that people who eat diets rich in the dark leafy greens and orange and yellow vegetables that provide beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are less subject to age-related macular degeneration, and aging eyes that are provided by antioxidant vitamin C and E, along with selenium and zinc, are more likely to suffer progression of the disease. Antioxidants are also helpful in preventing and supporting glaucoma.
Don't smoke. Even healthy diet cannot completely compensate for the damaging effects of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke. The physiological changes that lead to macular degeneration and cataracts are aggravated by exposure to tobacco smoke.
Exercise regularly. Regular exercise helps regulate blood sugars, and improves circulation to aging eyes.
Get your eyes checked at the optometrist's or ophthalmologist's office at least every other year. Some eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, have no early symptoms. Regular eye exams can prevent loss of sight to this condition. Regular eye exams are also important for updating your prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses.
Following these eight recommendations will not guarantee perfect vision for aging eyes, but they will greatly reduce your risk of a sight-robbing condition that could be prevented.