Healthy aging seems to be a trending phrase. But this trend might stick around for a long time since approximately 20% of our population is going to be over 65 by 2030. That’s about 72 million people. So how are we all going to age in a healthy manner? Or, more specifically, how will we all keep our eyes healthy?
Take these five healthy actions to help with the aging of your eyes. These tips can help protect your vision, and for the 72 million of us out there who will be over 65 soon, we can try to keep our eyes as healthy as possible and set ourselves up for continued healthy vision.
Visit your vision provider annually
Because, as we age, we need to be concerned with more than just vision impairment. There are other health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers, that your vision provider can detect during a comprehensive eye exam.
The National Eye Institute states that vision loss and blindness are “not a normal part of aging” but some changes like losing focus, trouble distinguishing some colors and needing more light to see are common. But keep in mind, these vision changes “can often be corrected.” Visit your vision provider every one to two years.
We talked about this over the summer, but we should always be aware of the damage UV rays can cause to our vision. Protecting our eyes from the sun is important for all age groups, and putting on your shades every time you step outside is a good habit to have. The long-term exposure to UV rays can increase your risk for cataracts when you get older.
Make healthy choices…
And this isn’t just eating more fruits and vegetables, although that’s a good place to start. Making healthy choices also means quitting smoking and keeping normal blood pressure and maintaining good cholesterol and glucose levels. Throw in 30 minutes of exercise daily, and your healthy choices are complete to benefit your vision health.
Eating fruits and vegetables with vitamin C and E, lutein and zeaxanthin, studies show, can lead to a lower risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Vitamins A and D, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids are also on the nutrient list to help maintain healthy vision.
Quitting smoking will also lower your risk for eye diseases like AMD and cataracts. Maintaining a healthy weight to lower your risk of developing diabetes is important because this condition can damage your eyes and potentially lead to vision loss. High blood pressure is also a condition that can damage your eyes.
Limit time in front of digital devices
Another trending term, along with healthy aging, is digital eye strain. This term, and condition, is also here to stay because we now spend so much time looking at our phones, working in front of the computer, or watching television. All this screen time can cause issues like eye dryness, eye fatigue, blurry vision and difficulty shifting focus to objects at a distance. Talk to your eye doctor if you have any of these symptoms of digital eye strain. Other steps you can take include using blue light filtering lenses and limiting your screen time by taking frequent breaks every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds. We don’t yet know the long-term effects digital eye strain will have on the population, but develop these healthy aging habits to help prevent the symptoms.
Knowing and being aware of any symptoms of vision loss will help you take the necessary step of visiting your vision provider and getting an eye exam. Look for any changes while reading, driving, or watching TV. Look for any changes with your loved ones like squinting or bumping into things.
As we get older, we’re also at a higher risk of vision loss from eye diseases and conditions like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and dry eye. Learning about these and other conditions, as well as knowing risk factors and your family history is an important part of your healthy aging process.