Your eyes age with you. As you get older, you may notice a decline in different facets of your vision. You may find it challenging to tell the difference between black and blue. Light sensitivity may require you wear sunglasses more often. Your clarity when reading a book or watching a computer screen may decline. The most common vision age-related vision issue is cataracts. Protein deposits adhere to the lens of your eye, muting colors and making your vision cloudy. Surgery is the only way to remove cataracts. Here are some things you should do to maintain your eye health.
Make an Appointment
Over 17% of Americans over 40 have a cataract in at least one eye. Cataracts are the primary cause of blindness in the world. The first step in your eye health is to make an appointment with an ophthalmologist. They will dilate your eyes and perform a comprehensive eye exam. They can tell you when cataract surgery is necessary. To learn more about how long cataract surgery takes visit this resource page.
In addition to cataracts, your ophthalmologist examines your overall eye health. They look for symptoms of:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Macular degeneration
- Amblyopia (also known as “lazy eye”)
- Seasonal allergies
Take Care of Your General Health
In addition to an annual eye exam, visit your primary care doctor for a complete physical. Follow their treatment recommendations to limit long-term damage to your body, including your eyes. Many chronic illnesses can affect your vision. Uncontrolled blood sugar can lead to diabetic retinopathy. Liver disease can damage your lens and cornea. Improper nutrition increases your risk of age-related macular degeneration. Sickle cell disease damages blood vessels in the eye.
If you have an eye injury, immediately call your doctor. Concussions can injure the optic nerve. Untreated, this damage can become permanent. Your doctor will develop a treatment plan which may include neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.
You cannot prevent cataracts from developing, but you may be able to slow the onset of them. Over time, exposure to ultraviolet light can increase the development of cataracts. Wearing sunglasses designed to block all UV rays can slow the progression of cataracts. Be sure to wear glasses outside, not just when the sun is brightly shining.
A quality pair of sunglasses alleviate light sensitivity, a frequent symptom of cataracts. Photochromic lenses are a great alternative to investing in prescription sunglasses. These lenses darken based on the intensity of the UV rays. They return to a clear lens when you return indoors.
Limit Screen Time
Care for your eyes by putting the phone, tablet, or computer down. Studies show that spending too much time in front of a screen can affect your eye health, including increasing the development of cataracts. Many prescription eyeglass providers offer a blue-light coating to protect your eyes. You can also purchase non-prescription glasses that have a blue light coating if you wear contacts or don’t wear glasses.
Most eye specialists recommend the 20-20-20 rule to give your eyes a break. Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes. Focus on something at least 20 feet away. After 2 hours of screen time, take a 15-minute break. Forcing yourself to blink when watching a screen also helps prevent eye strain. Create a healthy work environment. Simple changes to your physical environment can give you the most benefit. These changes include:
- Move your screen about five inches below eye level.
- Place your screen no closer than 20 inches from your eyes.
- Use blinds to limit the glare of your screen.
- Install low-wattage light bulbs.
- Invest in an ergonomic chair.
We all know the benefits of physical activity for your overall health. That same activity can help delay the onset of cataracts. Smokers are more likely to develop cataracts or age-related macular degeneration. Talk to a nutritionist about incorporating fish, fruit, nuts, and leafy green vegetables into your meal plan. High-quality nutrients, such as vitamin C, lutein, and zinc improve eye health.
As you age, maintaining your general health is important to care for your eyes. With a few modifications to your daily routine, you can rest assured you are doing a lot to take care of your eyes.