Healthy Aging Eye Month: 7 Ways to Protect Vision Long-Term
Published by on September 19, 2023
Vision is one of our most precious senses, but it can also be one of the most vulnerable to aging. As we get older, we may experience changes in our vision that affect our ability to see clearly, distinguish colors, adjust to different levels of light and perform daily activities.
The good news is that there are things you can do to protect your vision as you age. Here are 7 tips to help you slow down the progression of common age-related eye problems.
1. Shield your eyes from sunlight.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can damage the eye’s tissues, cornea and lens, even in the non-summer months. This increases your risk of developing cataracts and other eye diseases. Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB wavelengths and a hat with a wide brim when you are outside. Make sure your sunglasses fit well and wrap around your face to prevent sunlight from entering from the sides.
2. Stop smoking.
Smoking increases the risk of eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease by causing cellular changes, oxidative stress, vascular constriction and inflammation in the eyes. It also affects the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the eyes, which can impair their function and healing. Quitting smoking can lower your risk of developing eye problems and improve your general health.
3. Eat a healthy diet.
Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens and colorful ones, can provide antioxidants and nutrients that protect your eyes from oxidative stress and inflammation. Nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent or delay the onset of cataracts and macular degeneration by supporting the health of the retina and lens. They may also help lower the risk of glaucoma and diabetic eye disease by regulating blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
4. Stay active and maintain a healthy weight.
Excess weight can increase the risk of eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease by increasing inflammation, oxidative stress, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels and insulin resistance in the body. These factors can damage the blood vessels and nerves that supply the eyes and impair their function. Losing weight can help improve these conditions and reduce the risk of eye problems.
5. Manage chronic conditions.
Chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and thyroid disorders can damage the blood vessels and nerves that supply the eyes and cause complications, including:
- diabetic retinopathy (damage to the retina)
- hypertensive retinopathy (damage to the retina from high blood pressure)
- optic neuropathy (damage to the optic nerve)
- thyroid eye disease (swelling or bulging of the eyes).
To prevent these complications, follow your doctor’s advice on how to manage your chronic conditions with medication, diet, exercise and regular check-ups.
6. Avoid eye injuries.
Eye injuries can cause permanent vision loss if not treated promptly. To avoid eye injuries, always wear protective eye gear when performing any task that may cause them, such as using tools, chemicals or machinery, or playing sports that involve balls, racquets or flying objects. Also, keep your eyes clean and avoid rubbing them with dirty hands. If you experience an injury, seek medical attention immediately.
7. Get regular eye exams.
A comprehensive eye exam can detect early signs of eye diseases and conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease, before they cause noticeable symptoms or vision loss. It’s important to have an eye exam at least once annually.
By following these tips, you can help protect your vision and keep your eyes healthy as you age.
As modern vision correction specialists, we at Kugler Vision are committed to serving our patients’ needs on the journey to a life free from visual barriers. Take the first step with a thorough EyeAnalysis and find out if you qualify for Modern LASIK or one of our 5 other advanced vision correction treatments. Book online at LASIKOmaha.com.
Dr. Drew Dickson is a board-certified ophthalmologist who specializes in LASIK and other refractive surgery procedures. He completed his undergraduate studies at Liberty University before earning his medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine. He then completed his ophthalmology residency at the Medical University of South Carolina Storm Eye Institute.
In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Dickson is involved in research and has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Dickson is known for his compassionate bedside manner and commitment to providing his patients with personalized care. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and traveling.