Chances are that most people over the age of 40 are dealing with some degree of presbyopia. This complex term refers to the natural changes that occur with aging eyes. Presbyopia makes it more difficult to read small print, which is the main reason many older people wear reading glasses even if they don’t need glasses otherwise. While some degree of presbyopia is inevitable in nearly everyone, there are six relatively simple strategies that seniors can take to protect their precious eyesight for as long as possible.
Only Wear Sunglasses during VERY Bright Activities
Most people believe that sunglasses protect your eyes like suntan lotion protects your skin. New research is finding that there are over 1,500 wavelengths of light that feed and nourish our eyes. Depriving eyes of these wavelengths can result in eye malnourishment and may even lead to visual impairment.
The best time to wear sunglasses is during outdoor activities in bright sunlight, like spending the day on a boat or a ski hill. Water and snow reflect and intensify the sun’s rays and can cause damage to the eye. Other than activities in the intense sun, try to keep the sunglasses off as much as possible.
Eat More Nutrient Rich Foods
Eating a diet rich in fruits, such as berries, and vegetables like tomatoes, helps provide the body with the antioxidants it needs to fight free radicals – an important aspect of protecting vision. Bilberries, the European blueberry, may prevent or even reverse macular degeneration. Dark colored berries, such as blueberries and cranberries, also have bioflavonoids that strengthen the capillaries in eyes to better carry nutrients in.
Remember that berries should be consumed in moderation, because many of them have fructose, which breaks down into sugar in the body.
Other foods and nutrients that really help include foods that contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants which help slow down macular degeneration. Astaxanthin is another antioxidant that supports energy levels in the eye and helps maintain healthy eye pressure level. Foods that contain these antioxidants include:
- Free range organic eggs
- Wild-caught Salmon
Practice Proper Eye Hygiene
Back in the day, eyesight correction required thick heavy glasses. Hard contacts were viewed as an innovation – but required an elaborate routine of lens solution and nightly boiling. Today, there are contacts that can be worn for extended periods of time, even while sleeping. But just because contacts can now be worn while sleeping doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to do so. With rare exceptions, removing contacts at night is an essential part of proper eye hygiene.
Maintain Regular Exercise
Maintaining regular exercise is an essential aspect of overall health. But exercise can provide benefits for maintaining eyesight as we age. Specifically, regular exercise can help prevent macular degeneration – a common condition among older individuals.
Exercise is extremely beneficial for helping maintain your blood sugar at a normal level. High blood pressure could cause damage to the small blood vessels around the eye, obstructing blood flow.
Take Screen Breaks
A large amount of research has shown that it is better to just relax your eyes in general rather than try to exercise the muscles in them. Sleeping on a regular basis, meditating, and even performing yoga, can help relax the eyes, allowing them to perform better
Get Regular Checkups
Self-care is an important aspect of maintaining good eye health. However, it is also important to have regular checkups with an ophthalmologist. Only a professional examination can disclose potential problems, such as macular degeneration or glaucoma at an early stage – when they can be more readily treated.
Maintaining eye health is an important aspect of aging well, and some of the most effective strategies for preserving eyesight are also easy to accomplish.
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Helping seniors stay healthy is a tenant of life at Camino Retirement Apartments and Westwind House.