2News Check Your Health - Protect Your Eyes from the Sun
How to Protect Your Vision As You Age
Eyesight often declines as people age, and you are also at a higher risk of developing some eye diseases as you get older, such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma.The most important thing you can do for your eye health is seek preventative care from an ophthalmologist and get treated early for any eye diseases that develop. You can also make certain lifestyle changes to protect your eyes, such as quitting smoking, losing weight, and always wearing protective eye gear. Then, you might also benefit from assessing your diet to ensure that it includes as many eye-healthy nutrients as possible.
Using Preventative Care
Get your eyes checked regularly.Many eye diseases can be treated if you catch them early enough.Having regular eye exams is the best way to detect eye health issues early and get treatment for those problems.Get a complete eye exam by an ophthalmologist once every one to two years. Individuals over 60 years old should have annual exams.
- If you suffer from autoimmune diseases such as myasthenia gravis, Lyme disease, or sarcoidosis, you may need more frequent exams.
- During your eye exam, the doctor will check you for glaucoma, administer a test to check your eyesight, check your eye muscles, and check your glasses to see if the lenses need to be adjusted.
- During your appointment, make sure that you let your doctor know about any vision changes or other eye problems you have experienced.
Have your eyes dilated at eye exams after age 65.Pupil dilation allows your eye doctor to see further into your eyes and check for potentially serious problems. These problems are often treatable if caught early, but they are more common as you age. That is why it is important to get your pupils dilated at eye exams once you pass the age of 65.
- To dilate your pupils, your eye doctor will put some special drops into your eyes. Then, they will look into them while they are dilated.
- You should also have your pupils dilated at your annual eye exam if you have diabetes or a family history of eye disease.
See an eye doctor for certain symptoms.Some symptoms may indicate that you may have a condition that requires immediate treatment. If this happens, then it is important to see your eye doctor as soon as possible. Make an appointment with your eye doctor if you experience:
- Loss of vision
- Eye pain
- Seeing double
- Seeing floaters, which are tiny spots that come into your field of vision
- Seeing halos around light sources
- Seeing flashes of light
Making Lifestyle Changes
Quit smoking if you are a smoker.Smoking increases your risk of developing some eye conditions, such as cataracts and macular degeneration. If you quit smoking, then your risk of developing these conditions is nearly as low as someone who has never smoked.
- Talk to your doctor for help with quitting smoking if you are a smoker. There are medications, smoking cessation programs, and other options that can help you to quit.
Maintain a healthy weight.Being obese puts you at a notably higher risk of developing eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.To minimize these risks, it is important to maintain a healthy weight. If you are obese, then do what you can to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.
- Talk to your doctor if you are struggling to lose weight. You may benefit from certain weight loss programs, aids, or other interventions.
Exercise regularly.Getting regular exercise is good for your overall health, but it can also help to reduce your risk of developing certain eye diseases.Try to get at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular activity per week, or 30 minutes five days per week.
- Try going for walks on your lunch break, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and parking further away from store entrances to get more steps in throughout the day.
- Find an activity that you enjoy to help make exercise something you want to do. For example, you might try swimming, biking, dancing, running, or playing soccer.
Wear sunglasses or a wide-brim hat.Exposing your eyes to the sun too often can increase your risk of developing certain eye diseases, such as cancer, eye growths, and cataracts.To protect your eyes from the sun when you are outside, you can wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.Some other precautions you can take to protect your eyes from the sun include:
- Never looking directly into the sun. The sun’s radiation can damage your retinas.
- Not expecting clouds to provide sun protection. The sun’s rays can still affect your eyes even when it is cloudy.
- Avoiding looking at the sun’s glare off of snow in winter. Looking at the glare on snow can lead to a condition called snow blindness.
Use protective eyewear.When you work with power tools, chemicals, or in another environment where harmful substances might come into contact with your eyes accidentally, then it is important to protect yourself by wearing protective eyewear.
- Use safety goggles that provide eye protection from all sides, not just in front of your eyes.
Drink alcohol in moderation.Drinking in excess is not good for your general health or your eye health. Heavy drinking may even lead to developing macular degeneration earlier;however, drinking in moderation may offer you some eye health benefits.Try having a glass of wine a couple times per week to gain some of these benefits.
- Moderate drinking means that men should have no more than two drinks per day, while women should have no more than one drink per day.
- If you drink more than the recommended limits and you cannot cut back on your own, then speak with your doctor for help managing your drinking.
Eating Healthy for Eye Health
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.Fruits and vegetables are the most abundant source of healthy eye nutrients, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E.To get these vital nutrients, make sure to include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet.Some of the healthiest fruits and vegetables for eye health include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and oranges
- Collard greens
- Kiwi fruit
- Red peppers
- Romaine lettuce
- Sweet potatoes
Include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked with good eye health.Try to include a few servings of fish in your diet every week to ensure that you are getting enough omega-3 fatty acids for good eye health. You can also get omega-3 fatty acids from some nuts and seeds. Some good sources of omega-3s include:
- Flaxseed oil
Eat eggs with the yolks.Eggs contain lots of lutein and zeaxanthin, but these nutrients are mainly in the yolks.Try to include a few eggs in your diet each week to ensure that you are getting enough of these beneficial eye nutrients.
- For example, you might enjoy a boiled egg for a snack a few times each week, or have a three egg omelet for breakfast on the weekend.
Get zinc from red meat and shellfish.Zinc is another essential nutrient for good eye health. You can find zinc in a variety of different foods, but it is mostly found in animal products, such as red meat and shellfish. Some other good sources of zinc include:
- Pork chops
Snack on nuts for the vitamin E.You can get vitamin E from broccoli and spinach, but vitamin E is mostly found in nuts. Try to include a serving of nuts in your daily diet to get enough vitamin E.
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