As you age, your zest for life and all of its joyous experiences doesn’t fade away. Instead, it continues to thrive and to fully embrace these moments, you need one invaluable asset: clear and healthy eyesight.
The significance of maintaining sharp vision becomes increasingly important in later life. It’s not just about handling daily tasks; it’s about savouring every breathtaking experience life has to offer.
Regrettably, much like many other aspects of life, our eyesight too can experience the gentle wear and tear of time. As we journey through life, our eyes undergo changes that can lead to common age-related eye problems affecting our vision.
These can include:
These conditions can cause a range of vision issues, from difficulty reading to partial or complete vision loss. But fret not, for there are many ways to keep the light in our eyes shining brightly for years to come.
Join Starts at 60 as we explore some top tips for preserving and enhancing your eyesight well into later life.
Taking proactive steps to protect your eyesight is not only a matter of ensuring clear vision but also of preserving your independence and enhancing your overall well-being.
In the modern age, where screens and digital devices are everywhere, the importance of eye health cannot be overstated.
From adopting healthy lifestyle habits and maintaining a balanced diet rich in eye-friendly nutrients to understanding the significance of regular eye exams there are a number of simple measures you can adopt to nurture your eyes.
Optometrist David Shanahan explains that “vision is a precious gift, and with the right care, we should be able to enjoy good eye health throughout our lives.”
With that in mind, Starts at 60 picked Shanahan’s brain further for the key tips and advice you can employ in your day-to-day life to protect and maintain optimal vision.
Regular Eye Exams: Schedule comprehensive eye exams with an optometrist at least once a year. These exams can detect age-related eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) early when they are most treatable.
Healthy Diet: Maintain a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Foods like leafy greens, fish, and colourful fruits can help protect your eyes from age-related conditions.
Manage Chronic Conditions: Conditions like diabetes and hypertension can affect your vision. Keep these conditions well-managed through medication, lifestyle changes, and regular check-ups.
Quit Smoking: Smoking is a significant risk factor for AMD and cataracts. Quitting smoking can lower your risk of these conditions and improve overall eye health.
Stay Active: Regular physical activity improves blood circulation, which is essential for eye health. It can also help manage conditions like diabetes that affect vision.
Computer Use: If you spend extended periods in front of a computer screen, take regular breaks to reduce eye strain. Adjust the screen’s brightness and position to minimise glare.
Hydration: Stay well-hydrated. Dehydration can lead to dry eye syndrome, which is more common and more detrimental to eye health in older adults.
Medication Review: Some medications can affect your vision. Consult with your healthcare provider and optometrist to understand any potential side effects and discuss alternatives if necessary.
Proper Lighting: Ensure your home and workplace are well-lit, especially in areas where you read, cook, look at screens or engage in close-up activities. Proper lighting reduces eye strain.
Limit Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to eye conditions like cataracts. Moderation is key.
Follow Prescriptions: If you have glasses or contact lenses, wear them as prescribed by your optometrist. An up-to-date prescription ensures you’re seeing as clearly as possible. If you are experiencing headaches or eye strain it may be time to update your prescription.
As an optometrist for nine years, Michael Feng is often asked what can be done to maintain excellent vision for life.
Much like Shanahan, Feng also highlights the importance of regular checks, likening it to “routine car maintenance”.
“Good vision comes from a combination of our eye health and our prescription. Regular eye examinations are important to look for any serious issues but also to make sure you are seeing your best,” he says.
“Just like routine car maintenance we need to maintain our eyes regularly to ensure our eyes are working optimally and finding problems early on to treat provides a better outcome.
“The older our ‘cars’ get, the more they need some tender love and care and the same goes for our eyes. Patients over the age of 65 should get examinations at least once a year as our risk of age-related eye diseases increases as we get older.”
So how do we maintain good eye health well into our later years? Feng breaks this down into a few key categories:
For us to see clearly we need to have well-lubricated eyes. As we age many of us might be diagnosed with dry eye which can be a combination of your environment as well as other factors like hormones and diet.
Generally, women are more at risk of dry eye due to hormonal changes. Eating a diet rich in omega 3s has been shown to improve the tears; options to do this are fish and flaxseed.
As we get older, just like we have to moisturise our skin to keep it supple, our eyes also may need help to remain moist, this is where preservative-free artificial lubricants are helpful in aiding the treatment of dry eyes. Please consult your optometrist on which one is best for you.
Cataracts form when the lens inside the eye becomes cloudy. Part of this is caused by ageing, but there is evidence that protecting yourself from UV with a good pair of sunnies and a hat can slow the progression of cataracts.
The macula is the part of the back of the eye (retina) that lets us see the sharpest image. Macula degeneration is a devastating condition that affects vision. One thing that we can do to try to reduce our risk is diet. Eating healthy for the macula includes;
● fish two to three times a week
● dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit daily
● a handful of nuts a week
A great resource is the macula foundation. They have recipes that include ingredients with specific antioxidants that protect the macula. https://www.mdfoundation.com.au/living-well/wellbeing/nutrition-and-lifestyle/
“There are many important antioxidants found in the macula which help keep the macula healthy such as lutein and zeaxanthin,” Feng adds.
“These can be found in many food sources such as dark leafy vegetables; spinach, silverbeet and kale. Additionally Vitamin C, E and Zinc and selenium are also important which can be found in many fruits.”
Growing older doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the beauty of sight and the pleasures of life. By following these top tips for protecting and maintaining eyesight into older age, you can continue to appreciate all the beauty the world has to offer.
With a commitment to eye health and the support of their healthcare professionals, you can look forward to a future filled with clear vision and endless possibilities.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.