Preventing Vision Loss as You Age
It is pretty much inevitable that you will experience some vision loss as you age. In fact, by the time most adults reach the age of 80, they have either had or are considering having cataract surgery. Though this sounds rather ominous, there are ways you can minimize the amount of vision you lose as you get older, so you can keep your vision as sharp as possible well into the golden years.
Lifestyle rules to obey early, often and always
There are certain lifestyle changes that you should make as soon as possible, because what you do in your youth can greatly affect your health as a senior. For example, you should wear sunglasses every time you're outside, not just on sunny days, but cloudy ones too. The damage that is caused by exposure to UVA and UVB rays can lead to a wide range of eye problems, including cataracts and macular degeneration.
If you already wear glasses for vision correction and don't want to carry a second pair, consider getting a UV coating on your lenses. Photochromic lenses (also called transitions lenses) can be a great choice also. These darken in response to sunlight and then return to clear once you are back inside, which can be a lot more convenient than changing glasses. Whichever type you choose, you need make sure the glasses you wear have 100% UV protection. (There should be a label on the lens that indicates this.)
If you currently smoke, another great lifestyle change would be quitting. Not only is it bad for your general health, it is bad for your vision as well. Smoking is one of the major risk factors for many eye diseases and disorders including cataracts and macular degeneration. It can also increase the chance of developing diabetic retinopathy if you're diabetic.
Most importantly, make sure you get regular eye exams. One of the most crucial parts of your eye care is your teamwork with your eye care professional. Many eye conditions start small, sometimes with no noticeable symptoms, and then build over time to something more serious. Only an eye doctor can catch these problems in the earliest stages so that they can be monitored and treated to prevent permanent vision loss.
You should also ask your eye doctor about the conditions are most likely to be a problem to you as you age and what your risk factors are for certain eye conditions and diseases. If you have additional risk factors for vision problems, including diabetes, you should have additional comprehensive eye exams. And before you even think about putting off exams due to cost, be sure to check with your insurance provider first; many policies will allow for yearly exams if there are increased risk factors or conditions that are being monitored.
Better food, better eyesight
You are what you eat, and a miserable diet can make every part of your body, including your eyes, unhappy. A diet that is high in saturated fats, processed sugars and other unhealthy choices is likely to be low in vital nutrients, including the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that promote healthy, strong eyes.
Getting proper nutrition from fresh, healthy foods can help ensure that you have clear vision well into your senior years. You should be eating a wide range of foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, fat free or low fat dairy products, lean proteins and fats from healthy sources (especially Omega 3 fatty acids).
It's always best to get your vitamins and minerals from food sources, but if you can't get everything from you need from your diet, supplements may be beneficial. There are even supplements out there specifically designed to promote good vision and help prevent eye disease. These generally include vitamins like A, C, D, E and B complex plus minerals such as zinc, copper and selenium.
All supplements should be carefully considered however, especially by those who already being treated for medical conditions. Some medications, vitamins, minerals and herbs can adversely affect each other, so always check with your doctor before adding anything to your regimen. Smokers should be particularly careful with supplements, as large doses of certain vitamins can increase the risk of getting lung cancer.
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