Eye Care as You Age

November 15, 2013

Senior Couple Running In The Woods

The aging process can take its toll on the health of your eyes, and lifestyle choices can bring on or compound these problems. As we age, we are at a higher risk of developing eye health problems, including glaucomamacular degeneration and cataracts. Your vision can start to change dramatically as soon as you hit your 40s, according to the National Eye Institute.

Some of the vision issues experienced can include blurred vision, difficulty distinguishing colors and trouble adjusting to very bright light. However, there are some things you can do to improve the health of your eyes and maintain good vision over the years.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Talk to your physician about any significant weight gain or loss in the past year. If you are overweight or obese, you may be at an increased risk of developing diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. Maintaining a healthy weight may reduce your risk of eye health problems and many age-related diseases.

If you need to lose weight, make sure you follow a sensible plan that will help you lose extra pounds slowly without compromising your nutrient intake. Remember that you also need to eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods for optimal eye health.

Quit Smoking

Smoking has been linked to a number of eye health problems, including cataracts and optic nerve damage. If you haven’t broken the habit, take steps to stop smoking, so you can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of developing eye health problems at any age.

Make Time for Relaxation

Too much stress and a lack of sleep can take their toll on your body and mind. Stress and poor-quality sleep are also linked to high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of glaucoma and other eye health problems. If you live a high-stress lifestyle or feel run down all the time, you need to make time for breaks, leisure activities and more sleep. Learn how to meditate, practice yoga regularly, get a massage or just turn off all digital devices a few hours before bedtime, so you can let yourself relax naturally.

Improve Your Diet

Weekly menus with foods that are high in antioxidants and certain nutrients can benefit your vision. According to the American Optometric Association, eye-friendly nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and lutein can reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. To enjoy the most health and vision benefits, eat a varied diet that includes plenty of green leafy vegetables, eggs, salmon as well as antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.

Combat Dry Eyes

You may notice that your eyes become dryer as you age, which causes discomfort, irritation, mildly blurred vision and excessive tearing. Glands in your eyelid produce a tear film composed of mucus, oil and water that spreads across the eye as you blink. The tear film consistency can thin as you age, allowing the water to evaporate more easily and causing dry eyes. Dry eye can also trigger excessive tear production in sunlight or wind. Many doctors recommend increased consumption of foods containing omega-3 fatty acids — such as flax seeds, walnuts and salmon — to help increase the oil content of the tear film.

Remember to consult with your physician before making drastic changes to your diet or starting an exercise program. Making these lifestyle changes now can have a positive effect on your well-being and overall health. Take steps now to improve your health so you can reduce your risk of developing age-related eye problems.

 

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