Your eyes play a crucial role in how you move through the world and enjoy your life, from the moment you wake up to when you go to sleep. For that reason alone, it’s important to keep your eyes healthy and your vision at its best for as long as possible.
As you age, it’s normal to experience some changes in vision, such as difficulty distinguishing colours, adjusting to glare and near or farsightedness. But there are actions you can take to maintain good vision and enjoy lifelong eye health.
Take care of your health
Protecting your overall health can go a long way toward keeping your eyes healthy, as well as reducing your risk of other diseases and conditions that can also lead to eye or vision problems. It’s important to make healthy choices and take good care of yourself.
- Eat a balanced diet of nutritious foods. Fill your plate with whole foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins C and E. These nutrients may help lower your chance of developing macular degeneration or cataract. A well-balanced diet also helps you stay at a healthy weight. That lowers your risk of obesity and its related diseases – like type 2 diabetes, the leading cause of blindness in adults.
- Maintain regular exercise. Keeping physically active wards off health conditions that can cause eye health or vision problems, like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Quit smoking. While most people know smoking is bad for your lungs, it can also cause damage to your optic nerve, causing age-related eye diseases like macular degeneration (among many other medical problems).
Protect your eyes
- Always wear sunglasses. Sun exposure can damage your eyes and raise your risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses that protect your eyes from the sun – look for 99-100% UVA and UVB protection.
- Wear the correct safety eyewear. Whether you’re on the job or working on a home DIY project, always wear protective eyewear or safety glasses to avoid the risk of an eye injury.
- Throw away old makeup. Replace your products every three months to avoid developing an eye infection (bacteria thrive in liquid makeup). Never share cosmetics with others, avoid store samples and always clean your face before and after wearing makeup.
- Remove and disinfect contact lenses. If you wear contacts, take steps to prevent eye infections. Wash your hands well before you put in or take out your contact lenses. Be sure to disinfect your contact lenses and replace them regularly.
- Look away from the computer screen. If your use of digital devices has increased during the pandemic,
- you may notice your eyes feeling a little fatigued. To reduce eyestrain, try the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at a spot 20 feet away (about six metres) for 20 seconds.
Get to know your eyes
Getting older can increase your risk of some eye diseases. You might also have a higher risk of some eye diseases based on your family’s health history.
- Find out about your family’s eye history. Some eye diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration are inherited, so it is important to find out whether anyone in your family has had them. This can help you determine if you are at a higher risk of developing an eye disease.
- Know your other health-related risk factors. Other health conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure, can also increase your risk of some eye diseases. For example, people with diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy — an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness.
Get regular eye screenings
This list wouldn’t be complete without a reminder about regular eye exams – they’re the best way to protect your eyesight, even for children.
Although you may not notice problems with your vision, regular visits to your optometrist will ensure any symptoms are spotted early when they are easier to treat. It’s at that point you may be referred to an ophthalmologist.
Here’s what you can expect during a comprehensive eye exam:
- A review of your health and family history of eye disease
- Vision testing to see if you’re near-sighted, far-sighted, have astigmatism (a curved cornea that blurs vision), or presbyopia (age-related vision changes).
- Tests to see how well your eyes work together
- A dilated eye exam to check the retina and optic nerve
Your eyes are an important part of your health
Taking good care of your eyes is vital to your overall health and wellbeing. While vision loss is often assumed to be a normal part of aging, that doesn’t have to be the case. There’s no reason why, with good healthy habits and regular eye checks, you can’t enjoy a life of good eyesight.
Let’s get you seeing clearly, so you can live life to its fullest. Get in touch with the Auckland Eye team today!