One in every six adults over the age of 45 is affected by a sight-threatening eye issue. As we age, this risk continues to increase. The life expectancy of an American is longer than ever before, so we must make even greater efforts to protect and preserve our vision.
Some leading causes of blindness and low vision are cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Keeping your eyesight healthy is quite simple, but it requires dedication and consistency. Here are some guidelines to maintain your vision:
- Know your risk. Are you over the age of 65? Are you African American? Do you have a family history or personal history of diabetes? Does hypertension run in your family? You could be at increased risk for eye diseases that can cause permanent vision loss.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly. Center your diet on colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins to give your eyes the nutrients they need. Physical exercise is also important because it helps prevent hypertension and diabetes, conditions that increase your risk for eye disease.
- Visit your primary care physician and eye doctor regularly. Hypertension and diabetes are precursors to exudative macular degeneration, eye strokes and diabetic retinopathy. Annual wellness checks and comprehensive eye exams will help you stay healthier and preserve your vision.
- Sport those shades. UV radiation exposes your eyes to free radicals that cause vision damage. Choose sunglasses that offer 100% UVA and UVB protection, and wear them whenever you are outdoors. It is important to also wear sunglasses on cloudy days and in the winter.
- Wear proper eye protection. Safety glasses and safety goggles should always be worn when you are using machinery, power tools or chemicals.
- Be aware of any changes in your vision. If you notice any warning signs such as double vision, blurred vision, eye pain, floaters, flashes of light, or swelling of the eye, contact your eye doctor immediately.
There is no escaping getting older, but there is no reason that you cannot have healthy vision that lasts a lifetime. These steps are not difficult, but they require discipline. If you are not sure of where to start, begin by making an appointment with your primary care physician and your eye doctor. At those appointments, you will receive specific feedback about eye health and targeted suggestions for improvement.