The number of aging Americans with significant age-related vision loss is expected to double by 2030, according to the American Foundation for the Blind. Studies show that a majority of people that are legally blind (having a visual acuity of 20/200 or less, or a visual filed that is limited to 20 degrees or less) are elderly adults who are suffering from the most-common age-related eye diseases including; glaucoma, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Vison is continually becoming more of a greater issue in America as we age, however, the good news is that there are a few ways to protect our eyes against the ravages of aging and prevent the progression of certain vision-robbing ailments.
Have Your Own Exercise Routine- Having a regular exercise routine provides countless health benefits which includes keeping your eyes healthy. According to a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin, adults middle-aged and older could experience up to a 70 percent reduction in risk for developing age-related macular degeneration just by breaking a sweat 3 or more times a week.
The food we eat- Food plays an important role in determining how good our vision will be. Antioxidant-rich foods offer many health benefits, vision protection being one of them. Vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids are also key nutrients for maintaining good eyesight as you age. Vitamins C and E are found in abundance in green, leafy vegetables (spinach, kale), berries, citrus fruits, nuts and sweet potatoes, and can help guard against damage from free radicals and can lower your chances of developing cataracts.
Rock some shades- The damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation can severely damage your eyes and contribute to the formation of cataracts. Try to wear sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat as much as you can when it’s sunny out in order to protect your eyes from harmful radiation. Look for specific glasses that have lenses that offer 100 percent UV protection.
Don’t smoke- Smoking can cause a person’s chances for multiple chronic health conditions, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration to increase. This is just another reason why you should avoid smoking.
Maintain your blood sugar and pressure- When your blood sugar levels or your blood pressure fluctuate, it increases the chance of damaging the miniscule blood vessels in the retina which could lead to a loss in your vision or even blindness. People whit high blood levels or high blood pressure need to keep their levels in check in order to protect themselves from vision loss.
Give your eyes a break- Spending too much time staring at a digital screen can have a huge negative effect on your eyes. According to the National Institutes of Health, adhering to the 20-20 rule to cut down on the potentially damaging effects of eye strain. This rule states that for every 20 minutes that you spend staring into a digital screen, spend 20 seconds looking away from the screen. This will most likely help you maintain your vision in the long run.
One final tip for adults over the age of 50 is to get an annual comprehensive eye exam because a majority of age related eye diseases don’t have many symptoms in the beginning, and therefore make it common that you will not be able to notice that something is wrong until it is too late. Going in and taking this exam each year will help you catch a problem before it steals your sight. Overall, if you follow the steps listed above, and you start taking an annual eye exam once you reach 50, then you have a much better chance of maintaining good eyesight as you age.