10 tips for the Aging Eye

[12/07/2012]

10 tips for the Aging Eye

 

 

Like it or not, from the moment of birth, we are headed downhill on a slippery slope in terms of our health. Morbid as that may sound, it is the truth and we are in many ways, a victim of our environment and our living habits.

The eyes are no different; I always draw the analogy of our body (and our eyes) being much like an aging automobile! The older a car gets, the more likely there will be some loose parts, some breakdown or malfunction somewhere and more maintenance will be required. If looked after well, the car will continue to function extremely well and can live to a "ripe old age"!

I have compiled below, some general tips on how to provide some regular "maintenance" for your eyes to ensure that you can have clear vision at any age!

 

1. Get regular eye checkups. Starting from the age of 40, you should get annual eye examinations at the eye doctor's to look for signs of glaucoma, cataract or retinal diseases even if you're a healthy adult with no vision problems. People who have certain medical conditions that increase the risk of eye disorders, such as diabetes, or those who have vision problems should see the eye doctor earlier than 40. Depending on your risk factors and what is found, your doctor will recommend the appropriate time interval for follow up.

2. Wear sunglasses. The sun¡¯s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your eyes just as they can damage skin. UV rays can cause cataracts and possibly accelerate age related macular degeneration (AMD). The best way to protect eyes from the sun is with sunglasses that have UV filters. Lenses of any color will do as long as they have UV filters.

3. Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. There have been studies which suggest that sufficient intake of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin may help lower the risk of age related eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in fruits and vegetables with yellow and orange pigments, such as corn, squash, carrots, and citrus fruits. They are also found in dark green leafy vegetables, like kale and spinach.

4. Take a multivitamin. Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and E and the mineral zinc have been shown to promote eye health. This has been shown in the landmark Age Related Eye Diseases Study (AREDS) to reduce the risk of AMD in certain individuals.

5. Stop smoking. Smoking has been linked with eye diseases because it reduces blood flow to the eyes and can increase the amount of toxins (like tar and nicotine) absorbed by the eyes. If you¡¯re at risk for diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration, exposure to toxic substances in cigarettes can elevate that risk.

6. Adequate lighting. While you won¡¯t permanently hurt your eyes by reading or working in a dimly lit area, you can cause temporary eyestrain, which can lead to headaches and fatigue. Make sure that your work space is well lit and this will make for comfortable reading.

7. Take a break. Another way to prevent eyestrain is to take frequent breaks from the computer screen or reading materials. Use the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, look up or away at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds, so your eyes get a rest.

8. Get enough sleep. Sleep is something which allows the body to rest and repair itself. If you get enough sleep, your eyes will be refreshed along with the rest of your body.

9. Regular exercise. We all know that exercise will benefit the heart and improve energy levels but it can also have untold benefits to our eyes. There have been studies which have shown that people who exercise regularly are less likely to develop glaucoma, AMD and of course regular exercise is also good for diabetics and their eyes.

10. Be alert, don't ignore warning signs. As with any diseases, the earlier it is caught, the better the outcome of treatment. See your doctor if you experience blurred or double vision, if your vision appears cloudy, or if you have eye pain or are bothered by the glare of lights. All are signs that you could be developing vision problems that can be treated by your eye doctor.