September is Healthy Aging Month. Healthy Aging Month is an annual observance month designed to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older. As you age, many changes occur, including those to your vision. However, vision loss and blindness do not need to be the end results. Here are some tips on how to keep your eyes healthy as you age.
1. Don’t smoke
We all know smoking is bad for your lungs, but it’s just as bad for your eyes. Smoking can increase your chances of macular degeneration, cataracts, and other diseases that can affect your vision.
2. Protect your eyes from UV rays
Make sure to protect your eyes when you are outside. Always wear UV blocking sunglasses, and if you are going to be in the sun for an extended period of time, consider adding a hat. Wide brimmed options are the best for keeping your eyes protected.
3. Eat a balanced diet
Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Some studies suggest that sufficient intake of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin may help lower the risk of eye conditions that can accompany aging, such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Also, increase your intake of whole grains and cereals. Sugars and refined white flours commonly found in breads and cereal may increase your risk of age-related eye diseases.
4. Take a multivitamin
Today’s soil is not as rich in nutrients as it once was, so adding a multivitamin into your daily regimen can provide nutrients your food may be lacking. Adding Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, E, and the mineral zinc can help promote eye health.
5. Get enough sleep
Being tired can increase eye strain, making your eyes work harder. If your entire body is well rested, your eyes will also be refreshed.
6. Stay hydrated
On top of drinking your daily quota of water, add other beneficial drinks to your diet. Skim or lowfat milk will provide needed calcium. Juices made from 100% fruits or vegetables are a great additional source for vitamins. Non-caffeinated teas are another way to intake water without additional sugar. Being properly hydrated can also decrease eye irritation.
7. Schedule regular eye exams
At age 40, you should begin scheduling yearly eye exams. During these exams, your doctor can look for early warning signs of glaucoma or cataracts. Certain medical conditions such as diabetes can increase your chances of vision problems. If you have a condition you know can cause vision problems, or currently existing vision problems, you may want to start scheduling visits earlier than 40.
Vision problems such as glaucoma, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy are common among older adults. You can’t prevent your eyes from aging, but you can slow age-related damage by taking care of your eye health. Kick start your healthy habits during the month of September to keep your eyes as healthy as they can be.