Caring for ageing eyes

There’s some things you can’t control as you age.

A declining ability to climb stairs.

The fact you can’t party as hard as when you were 20.

Skin that shows you’ve been on this Earth for more years than most.

Such things, at least for most folks, are just a natural part of getting older that simply have to be accepted.

Just like other parts of the body, your eyes are susceptible to the ageing process. Issues like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration can all develop as we age. We’re also more likely to have other health issues such as diabetes, which can further increase the risk of eye complications.

Thankfully, however, there are some things you can do to help avoid such conditions and slow down the effects of ageing on the eye. This is important as we’re all at risk of losing our independence as we get older.

The longer you can maintain a clear and healthy vision, the longer you can retain the capacity to take part in your regular activities and look after yourself.

You can’t prevent your eyes from ageing. But by taking heed of the ten tips below, you can slow age-related damage and ensure you take the best possible care of your vision.

1. Have regular eye exams

Number one on the list is by far the best thing anyone can do to look after their eyes, but this is especially so if you’re over 40.

After age 40, regular eye checks will ensure your doctor picks up on the signs of glaucoma and retinal damage. These conditions often develop without symptoms and can occur in healthy individuals who have no vision problems.

If you take certain medications or have other medical conditions like diabetes, you may be at increased risk of developing certain eye conditions. Depending on your risk factors and the findings of an initial eye exam, your eye doctor will recommend how often you need to see them and what else you can do to maintain clear vision.

2. Wear sunglasses

Ultraviolet (UV) rays can be as if not more damaging to ageing eyes as they are to delicate skin.

UV rays are one of the possible causes of cataracts and are a factor in the development of macular degeneration. The best way anyone has come up with yet to protect eyes from the sun is wearing sunglasses that offer 100 percent UV protection.

Your shades should also be large and wrap around the sides a little, helping to block UV rays from entering the eye through the skin around them.

3. Wear a hat

Whether your grandma always told you or you always tell your grandkids to wear a hat, doing so is a great way to protect you and your eyes from the sun.

As they are made from light thin glass, sunglasses can only do so much. A hat is the next level of protection and is paramount if you’re outside for long periods of time, such as when gardening or playing golf.

Donning a hat is also an effective way to protect your skin from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin disease. Although not so common, melanoma can form on the eyelid and from there spread to other parts of the body.

4. Eat well

We all know choosing a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is invaluable for your health. But it is also essential for your eyes and long term vision.

While the best advice is to eat a varied diet, some studies suggest that antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin may help lower the risk of eye conditions, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

Both these antioxidants are found in high levels in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, corn, squash, and citrus fruits. They’re also found in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale.

5. Take your vitamins

Along with upping your intake of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A (beta-carotene), vitamin C, and vitamin E and zinc have been shown to promote good eye health.

If you can source organic, locally sourced produce then maybe you’ll get all the vitamins and minerals you need from your diet. However, the reality is today’s soil is not as rich in nutrients as it used to be due to overfarming. And so, even when we try and eat properly, we may not be getting the nourishment we need.

Today there is an abundance of choice of multivitamins on the market. Choose one that meets the requirements of your age and style of life and your eyes will thank you later.

6. Stop smoking

Smoking is clearly not good for your health at any stage of life. But few people know that it is particularly damaging to your eyes and vision.

Smoking can promote a variety of eye diseases as it reduces blood flow and increases the amount of toxic substances like tar and nicotine that your eyes absorb. What’s more, if you’re at risk of conditions like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, such toxic substances can elevate the risk of smoking even further.

7. Shed some light

Anything that causes you to strain your eyes may also be contributing to their long term damage. One of these common factors that may affect us in day-to-day life is lighting.

Whilst reading or working in a poorly lit area won’t necessarily damage your eyes, it can compound with other factors such as screen use and air pollution to put too much strain on your eyes. Lighting is thankfully one factor that we can control, and by simply making sure your workspace is adequately lit you can help avoid such problems.

8. Take a break

Another way to prevent eye strain is to take regular breaks from activities that involve a computer screen, TV, reading, or anything else that is heavy on the eyes.

About every twenty minutes or so, look at an object in the distance, at least twenty feet away, for at least twenty seconds. This will allow your eyes to recalibrate and get some well-needed rest.

9. Get sufficient sleep

As more research is coming out on the effect of our nighttime lives on every aspect of our health, sleep is becoming an increasingly hot topic and gaining much well-deserved attention.

When you are overtired, you’re more likely to strain your eyes. And when your eyes are strained, more sleep can help the tiny muscles in and around the eye relax. There’s simply no replacement for a good eight hours in the sack every night.

10. Notice warning signs

As long as they’re caught early enough, eye doctors can treat many potentially vision-threatening vision problems.

If you notice your vision is blurry, have eye pain, see halos or glare around lights, experience double vision, or have trouble seeing at night, visit your eye doctor. While it may be nothing, all can be signs of developing vision problems that can be treated by your eye doctor.

You can’t turn back the clock, but you can keep your eyes healthy as you age. Find out how Laser Eye Surgery could help you by getting in touch with our friendly team of eye experts.