How to Preserve Your Vision as You Age
Aging takes its toll on all parts of your body. Wrinkles, gray hair, and creaky, stiff joints are not the only signs of getting older. Your eyes and eyesight begin to change, as well. While change is likely inevitable, you can also slow down the progression or reduce your risk for age-related eye disease and conditions with lifestyle modifications.
And for the conditions you can’t prevent, there are medications, surgeries, and other treatments to help maintain your vision as you age. Preserving your eyesight is one of the most important things you can do to sustain your quality of life and independence as you age.
Common age-related vision issues
You don’t see many 20-somethings toting around reading glasses, do you? But those glasses are a staple among middle-agers. That’s because as you get older, the lenses of your eyes change and become less flexible. This lens rigidness, called presbyopia, makes it difficult to see close things clearly.
Fortunately, you can easily remedy this problem with a pair of reading glasses (available without a prescription) or with prescription eyeglasses. Other common age-related eye conditions include:
- Dry eyes
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
How to keep your eyes healthy
While there are some factors beyond your control such as family history and your ethnic or racial background that put you at a higher risk of developing certain eye diseases, there are many ways you can reduce your risk and preserve your vision. Here are a few:
Sunglasses don’t just make you look cool and protect your eyes from glare; they also help prevent cataracts and reduce your risk of AMD. The UV light from the sun may change the cells of your retina and lens. Buy glasses that protect you against both UVA and UVB rays.
Smoking increases your risk for several chronic diseases, including AMD. Studies show that both current and former smokers have four times the risk of developing AMD than non-smokers.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese also increases your risk for several diseases, included eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and AMD. Plus, being overweight or obese increases your risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can also contribute to raising your risk for age-related eye disease.
Eating a healthy diet
Foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, such as fruits, green vegetables, and salmon, may reduce your risk for eye diseases like cataracts and AMD.
Get regular comprehensive eye exams
Many diseases have no early signs and can only be detected through a comprehensive eye exam. Early detection of glaucoma and AMD are keys to slowing their progression. Plus, eye exams can help make sure you have the right prescription, so you’re not straining your eyes.