As we age, so do our eyes and the risk of eye problems and vision loss increases. In fact, one out of every six adults age 45 and above has a vision-threatening eye condition. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), more than forty-three million Americans will develop some sort of age-related eye disease by 2020.
You don’t need to just sit around and wait for your eyes and vision to deteriorate as there are many things you can do to protect your vision and reduce your risks of eye disease and vision loss.
7 Tips for Protecting Your Precious Eyes
Here are 7 eye-health tips to protect your eyes and vision as you age:
- Regular eye exams. The number one thing you can do to protect your eyes and vision is to schedule routine eye exams every year to check the health of your eyes. Many eye diseases must be detected and treated early to prevent vision loss and often symptoms don’t appear until it’s too late. Regular eye exams can catch a developing disease before vision is lost.
- UV eye protection. UV rays from the sun can damage your eyes and increase the risk of diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Any time you go outside (winter or summer) wear sunglasses with full UV protection as well as a hat or visor to protect your eyes from UV coming in from the top or the side of your glasses.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking significantly increases your risks of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts as well as other eye diseases. This is just another reason to quit.
- Eat a healthy diet. A balanced diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens as well as omega-3 fatty acids from fish and other sources can give you nutrients that will reduce your risks of many eye diseases including macular degeneration.
- Exercise regularly. Research by the AAO suggests that regular exercise can reduce the risk of macular degeneration by as much as 70%.
- Keep diabetes and high blood pressure under control. When not controlled and monitored these diseases can cause vision loss from serious eye problems such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, glaucoma and ocular hypertension. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure schedule regular eye exams to monitor your eye health.
- Know your family history and risk factors. Be aware of your latent risks for eye disease by knowing your family health history and the risk factors associated with your age, race, gender and lifestyle. If you have any risk factors tell your optometrist and learn about what you need to do to prevent eye disease.
As with any medical issue, be on the alert for any changes in vision. If you experience any of the following conditions see an optometrist immediately: double or hazy vision, difficulty seeing in low light conditions, flashes of light, floaters, and eye pain or swelling. Any of these symptoms may indicate a potentially serious eye health problem which need immediate attention.
Make sure your eyes are checked regularly through a comprehensive eye exam even if you don’t have any symptoms or vision loss. In addition to making sure you are seeing your best, this can detect the development of any serious eye disease. Adhering to these tips may not guarantee 20/20 vision for life but it will help you reduce your risk of eye and vision problems and to preserve your vision for a healthier life.