How to Maintain Your Eye Health as You Age

By , February 11th, 2019

Senior woman relaxing, Provence, France

Maintaining vision health as you get older is all about prevention. By shading your eyes from the sun, getting regular exams, moderating screen use, and maintaining overall health, you can keep your eyes healthy at any age.

Like everything else in your body, your eyes change with age, and some of those changes can require additional vision care. Middle-aged patients are prone to presbyopia, which limits close-range sight. Some eye diseases, like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), can lead to blindness. And by age 75, more than half of Americans will have cataracts.

Presbyopia, glaucoma, and AMD can lead to vision impairments and blindness, which are a major cause of disability in older adults. Daily activities like driving and working become more difficult and even dangerous. The good news is that some of these conditions can be prevented with simple lifestyle changes, and others can be slowed or remedied with your doctor’s treatment.

Protect Your Eyes From the Sun

Just like your skin, your eyes are vulnerable to sun damage. While the cornea protects other parts of the eyes, overexposure to UV radiation can still cause problems later in life. Strong temporary exposure to UV light — as when skiing, boating, or in a tanning bed — can “burn” the eye, inflaming the cornea and conjunctiva. Over time, even mild UV damage does add up, causing basal cell carcinomas and contributing to cataracts.

In order to protect your eyes, be sure to wear sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays whenever you’re outside. If you’ll be working outside for a long time or are going to a particularly sunny place, wraparound styles offer the best protection.

Receive Regular Eye Exams

Starting at age 40, you should have annual eye exams — even if your prescription hasn’t changed for many years, it’s likely to start shifting in middle age. It’s also crucial to have a doctor look for signs of glaucoma and retinal damage. These have can have few noticeable symptoms in the early stages, but early detection is key to preserving your vision in the long term. Of course, if you have another medical condition that can affect eyesight, like diabetes, you should already be visiting the eye doctor regularly and should continue that habit as you age.

Take Breaks From Screens

Many people use digital devices for hours every day, both at work and at home. That means hours of exposure to blue light, which may damage the retina and disturb your sleep patterns over the years.

In addition, using a screen means you’re consistently fixing your gaze at one point of focus, potentially causing eye strain. Be sure to look away from your screen every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, at a distance 20 feet away. You may also want to invest in yellow-tinted specialty glasses that filter out blue light.

Maintain Overall Health

One of the best ways to support your eye health is to maintain good levels of overall health. Exercising regularly improves blood circulation, which boosts the oxygen levels in the eyes. Eating a balanced diet with antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamins A and C is important for supporting eye health.

Additionally, smoking and not sleeping enough cause oxidative stress, which may worsen eye conditions. Smoking, in particular, introduces toxins to your body and elevates your risk for diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.

Schedule an Eye Appointment

If you’re experiencing worsening vision, the first signs of cataracts, or any signs of aging eyes, it’s time to talk to the doctors at Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers of Texas. Early detection is key to protecting your eyes, and our doctors can suggest lifestyle changes or surgical vision options that may improve the quality of your vision.

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