Supporting eye health is important at any age, but it's especially crucial for seniors. After all, people aged 65 and older are two to three times more likely to report vision loss than younger individuals. Fortunately, you can go a long way toward protecting your eyes and your vision with self-care and good habits. The following tips can help you get started focusing on eye health.
You've probably heard you should protect your skin from the harsh ultraviolet (UV) energy of the sun, but what about your eyes? UV radiation can cause eye irritation in the short term, and over time, it can lead to changes that increase the risk of some vision problems.
When you're headed outdoors, slip on a pair of sunglasses that have a UV rating of 400 or that provide 100% UV protection. This eyewear can filter out harmful UV rays before they reach your eyes. Even on gray days, UV is still present, so don't skip the sunglasses just because you see clouds. If you wear glasses for distance vision, consider purchasing lenses with integrated UV protection.
Some health conditions can raise your risk of vision problems. Both prolonged elevated blood sugar levels due to diabetes and uncontrolled blood pressure can damage structures in your eyes. If you have diabetes or hypertension, follow your medical provider's treatment plan and keep tabs on your blood sugar and blood pressure as they recommend. If you don't have either, see your medical provider for regular well visits to screen for high blood pressure and diabetes. Through our wellness services, Bethesda Gardens Phoenix senior living community in Phoenix, AZ, offers regular health assessments, so you can get basic screenings without having to travel.
Cigarette smoke contains toxins that can harm many parts of your body, including your eyes. Smoking increases your risk of dry eyes, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), vision complications from diabetes, optic nerve problems and other eye conditions. If you smoke, talk to your medical provider about smoking cessation methods. Prescription medications and nicotine replacement therapy products like patches and lozenges may help curb withdrawal symptoms to help you quit.
Vision health is another reason to get up and move. When you exercise, you increase blood flow and oxygen levels throughout your body, and this is beneficial for your eyes. Plus, regular exercise can also reduce the risk of diabetes and hypertension and make these conditions more manageable if you already have them.
Find a type of exercise you enjoy. Dance or take brisk walks outside. Try swimming or water aerobics. Play tennis or hit the golf course without using a cart.
Your computer can help you stay connected and keep you entertained, but it can also cause problems like dry eyes and eye strain. To protect your eyes, look away from your computer screen for at least 20 seconds once every 20 minutes. If your eyes feel scratchy or itchy, take a break and use artificial tear eyedrops to moisturize. Also, keep your computer screen at least 25 inches from your face at an angle that lets you downward rather than straight ahead or upward.
One in four older adults suffers a fall each year, and these accidents could result in eye injuries in some individuals. As a result, fall prevention is as important for your eye health as it is for reducing the risk of broken bones. Here are a few ways you can lower the likelihood of falls at home:
Ask your optometrist or ophthalmologist how frequently you should have your eyes checked and stick with the schedule they suggest. Be on the lookout for new symptoms, such as:
If you experience any of the above, see your medical provider as soon as possible. You may have an infection or an eye problem, and early treatment is key.
A healthy diet can help support eye health as you age. Some key vitamins and other nutrients for eye health include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin. Fruits, vegetables and beans are excellent sources of eye-health nutrients. Try to eat some at every meal, and enjoy fruits and veggies in a variety of colors to reap the benefits of a diverse range of vitamins.
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