The American Foundation for the Blind reports that two-thirds of the legally blind population are senior citizens with age-related eye diseases. They also note that the leading eye-related diseases for older Americans include glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.
You may be doing your best to age gracefully by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly—caring for your eyes, however, can seem like a daunting task as you age. Fortunately there are some steps you can take to help protect and limit damage from both preventative and non-preventative eye issues.
Here’s how you can get started on your journey to good eye health today:
Know Your Symptoms
Maturing eyes bring along a host of potential issues, from blurry vision to dry eyes. Some symptoms are relatively benign and completely normal like presbyopia, or the inability to see close objects and small print. This condition typically affects adults in their 40s and up, and doesn’t require much intervention other than reading glasses and regular check-ups. Other ailments like glaucoma are caused from too much fluid pressure inside the eye, and can lead to blindness. Make a careful list of your symptoms—no matter how small—to discuss at your next eye appointment.
While some conditions can’t be treated with medicine or surgery, like low vision, you can help lessen the effects of your eye issues with a few simple steps. Give yourself plenty or rest from computer and TV screens and change the lighting in your room. Install automated motion-sensor lights inside your home that turn on when you enter, to help stay alert and avoid accidents.
Increase Your Antioxidants
The Nutrition and Vision Project encourages adults to consume more antioxidants to help promote eye health. They also found that increasing intakes of Vitamin C led to reduced cortical and nuclear cataract risk. Eat your way to potentially healthier eyes by consuming lots of antioxidant-rich foods such as kale, spinach, and other leafy greens, as well as grapes and squash. All could help benefit your eyesight when eaten regularly.
Upgrade Your Sunglasses
Protect your eyes from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. Consistent UV exposure can increase your risk for cataracts, cancerous growths, and other diseases like macular degeneration. Replace your lenses and opt for a pair that offers UVA protection and glare reduction. Wear a brimmed hat along with your new sunglasses for added protection, and remember to slip on your shades even during winter or on a cloudy day.
See the Right Doctor
As your eyes age, you may need more than just a trip to the eye doctor. If you think you might be suffering from an eye disease, seek out an ophthalmologist or osteopathic doctor specializing in vision care. Ophthalmologists have completed medical school, training, and are licensed to practice both medicine and surgery. Meanwhile, an optometrist is a healthcare professional who can provide testing and help diagnose and treat issues in vision changes.
Regardless of what type of eye care and treatment you seek out, arm yourself with information on how to care for your eyes, recognize any alarming symptoms, and eat properly to promote good eye health.