As we age, we may find that it’s harder to read things up close or far away. Cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetes are all conditions that affect eyesight and become more common as we age. The good news is there are many simple things you can do to preserve the health of your eyes and prevent age-related eye issues. Here’s a list of six things to help protect your eyesight:
- Wear Sunglasses
We all know what the sun can do to your skin. It’s important to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays too! Wearing sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays will help protect your eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration, so look for sunglasses that offer UVA and UVB protection. If you wear contacts, they may offer some protection, but it’s still a good idea to wear sunglasses for that extra protective layer.
- Eat More Fruit
Healthy eyes start with a healthy diet. By eating a wide variety of fresh fruits—particularly oranges, strawberries and other sources of vitamin C—you are giving your body the nutrients it needs to keep your eyes healthy. Other foods to include for eye health include leafy green vegetables, oily fish like salmon and tuna and a mix of non-meat proteins: eggs, nuts and beans. Foods that are high in antioxidants such as blueberries and cranberries are also helpful to maintaining healthy eyes.A healthy diet can help prevent age-related eye issues such as cataracts and macular degeneration, which cause deterioration of the retina and result in blurred or lost vision. Healthy eating can also help prevent Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common cause of blindness in adults.
- Practice Proper Eye Hygiene
Just like brushing and flossing keep your teeth healthy, practicing proper eye hygiene keeps your eyes healthy and protects your eyesight. If you wear contacts, be sure to wash your hands before taking out or putting in contact lenses. Clean contact lens cases and replace them regularly. And don’t sleep in your contacts! If you don’t wear contacts, you can practice good hygiene by washing your hands regularly and avoiding touching or rubbing your eyes. If you wear makeup, be sure to remove it at night to avoid styes and other infections.
Exercise is good for maintaining a healthy body weight, but did you know it can also help keep your eyes healthy? Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly are less likely to develop eye diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a leading cause of sight loss in seniors, and although it is treatable, there is no cure. Even small amounts of exercise—as little as 10 minutes per day—can help improve your overall health and have an impact on your eye health as well.
- Take a Screen Break
Screens are everywhere these days—phones, tablets, TV screens and computers. If you spend a considerable amount of time looking at a screen, be sure to take regular breaks to avoid eye fatigue and strain. Just remember the 20-20-20 rule—every 20 minutes, take a break and look away from your screen at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Staring at a screen can also dry out your eyes. When you take a break, look at other objects around you and blink regularly. Even small breaks can help keep your eyes and body from feeling the strain of spending too much time on devices.
- Get a Checkup
To help keep your eyes healthy, be sure to have regular checkups with your ophthalmologist. After age 65, it’s a good idea to see an eye doctor every year or two. An ophthalmologist can check for eye diseases including glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Catching these diseases early makes them easier to treat, so it’s a good idea to get regular eye checkups.
There’s a lot you can do to be proactive about eye health to preserve your eyesight for many years to come.