As you get into your 50s and beyond, eye care becomes doubly important as you become increasingly susceptible to a host of degenerative eye conditions such as AMD (age-related macular degeneration), cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease.
Many of these conditions have no early warning signs or symptoms, making it important to detect them in the earliest stages possible before any vision is lost.
Below are 5 self-care tips to help you maintain your eyesight well into your future.
1. Get a regular eye check-up done with an eye care professional at least once a year. If you have a family history of eye disease such as glaucoma or cataracts, be sure to mention it. Ask to check for retinal damage and screen for any signs of approaching eye disease.
2. Have a big salad a day. There are some antioxidants in fruits and vegetables that are important for preserving eye health. In particular, lutein and zeaxanthin may play a big role in preventing eye degeneration. They are particularly found in red, yellow and orange fruit and vegetables, as well as leafy green vegetables such as romaine, kale and spinach.
3. Spend some time outside. Most eye care professionals will tell you to wear sunshades often as a protective measure for your eyes. Certainly, it is important not to stare directly into the sun.
However, sunlight entering via eyes is important for regulating your circadian rhythm, which in turn influences your body’s regulation of hormones such as melatonin and cortisol. Disturbed circadian rhythms may have a role in conditions ranging from depression to memory loss and slowed reaction time.
Additionally, low melatonin is associated with illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. As you age, your eye lens gradually narrows, which makes it harder for sunlight to enter. If you live a sedentary indoor life, you are at risk. Spend some purposeful time outdoors every day to counter this, and over time your eyes should become less sensitive to the sun.
4. Reduce screen time. Focusing on a screen for long periods of time induces strain, eye fatigue and dry eye, which over time takes a hit on general eye health. Balance your screen time with other healthy activities. Vary the things you do and get plenty of rest when needed.
5. Quit smoking. Smoking affects your circulatory system, which becomes less effective at delivering oxygen and nutrients to the rest of your body, including your eyes. If you’re a smoker, your risk of developing degenerative eye disease is greatly increased.
Take good care of your eyes and they will serve you well as you get older. If you are 50 and above and haven’t had an eye exam in a while, why not pick up the phone and schedule one today?