5 Tips to Maintain Healthy Eyes at Any Age
As we get older, our eyesight may not be quite as sharp as it once was. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help protect your eyes and maintain optimal eye health as you age. Scheduling an annual eye exam is one of the most important precautions you can take, regardless of whether or not you currently wear glasses or contacts.
In addition to regular check-ups, here are some ways you can keep your vision strong and eyes healthy over the years:
1. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
The risk of developing certain age-related vision problems—such as macular degeneration and cataracts—can potentially be minimized with a diet that includes vitamins A, C, and E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and lutein. In the event one of these conditions does occur, regularly consuming these nutrients may be able to help slow their progression. Examples of some foods you may want to incorporate into your meals include:
- Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens
- Fish, especially salmon and tuna
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Non-meat sources of protein like eggs, nuts, and beans
Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants (such as vitamins A and C) can help support the health of your eye’s macula, which is responsible for central vision. Conversely, a diet that lacks antioxidants and/or is high in saturated fat often leads to free radical reactions that may damage the macula. Individuals who consume a high-fat diet are also at risk of developing deposits in the arteries, which can negatively affect proper blood flow to the eyes.
In addition to maintaining a nutritious diet, regular exercise can help you stay at a healthy weight and reduce your risk of developing glaucoma and type 2 diabetes (diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness for American adults). Exercise also improves blood circulation to the eyes, ultimately increasing oxygen levels and removing toxins.
3. Give Your Eyes a Rest
Devices like smartphones and computers emit blue light, and extended use throughout the day can lead to eyestrain, difficulty focusing at a distance, dry eyes, headaches, back/neck/shoulder pain, and blurry vision. To protect your eyes at work and home, try these tips:
- Regularly rest your eyes—look away from the screen periodically (ideally every 20 minutes), and focus on something in the distance (20 feet away) for approximately 20 seconds before returning to work
- Take a 15-minute break at least every two hours, if possible
- Wear glasses intended for computer use (made with a blue light filter)
- Adjust the top of your computer screen to be positioned slightly below eye level
- Keep your computer screen 20-24 inches away
- Ensure your contacts or glasses prescription is up-to-date
- Blink frequently
- Use eye drops, as needed
4. Quit Smoking
Smoking can have many negative effects on your eyes, including increasing your risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and optic nerve damage. Talk to your doctor about how you can quit.
5. Wear Sunglasses and Safety Eyewear
UV damage can accelerate the development of conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts, so wearing sunglasses with 99% to 100% UVA and UVB protection whenever you are outdoors during the day is an important precaution. Additionally, if you work around hazardous materials or play sports like hockey, lacrosse, or racquetball, protective eyewear or helmets can help keep your eyes safe.
To schedule an eye exam with one of our experienced eye doctors, or to learn more about eye safety and maintaining healthy eyesight as you age, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is always happy to answer any questions you may have.