Keeping your eyes healthy is just as important in your older years as it was when you were younger. It may even be more important. As we age, there are several parts of the body whose ability to function diminishes significantly. The eyes are one of them. Here are some tips for keeping your eyes as healthy as possible despite your age:
- Dilated Eye Exams – These exams are the only way to detect diseases like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic eye diseases in their early stages. These types of eye problems rarely have warning signs and should be tested for as often as once per year. During a dilated eye exam, your eye care professional will put drops in your eyes that cause your pupils to widen. This acts as opening a door to let more light into a darkened room. Widening the pupils allows the eye doctor to see the back of your eye and look for signs of disease.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Usually, we think of heart health when we think about staying at a healthy weight, but being overweight affects all parts of our body, including the eyes. Obesity can contribute to diabetes and diabetes can lead to vision loss.
- Don’t smoke – *According to the Centers for Disease Control, a study has shown that people with age-related eye diseases who currently smoke have a higher visual impairment than those who were former smokers or those who have never smoked.
- Eat an eye-healthy diet – Luckily for us, diets that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, zinc and lutein are not just good for our eye health. They are also good for many other parts of our body. *According to the American Optometric Association, certain substances like Vitamin C, lutein, and zeaxanthin are particularly helpful for use in prevention of eye disease like cataracts. Vitamin C can be obtained in many foods including citrus fruits, strawberries, green peppers and tomatoes. Lutein and zeaxanthin are naturally together in many foods. They are most plentiful in dark leafy greens, but can also be found in foods like corn, persimmons, tangerines, peas, and orange peppers.
Our bodies are made from the foods that we eat. It only makes sense to feed them what they need to stay healthy.
- Know your family’s health history – this won’t necessarily stop you from developing an eye disease, but knowing what your family has suffered may give you motivation to do the necessary things to help prevent eye disease for yourself. Motivation is a necessary factor in taking action, and taking action to prevent or slow eye disease can only be beneficial.