Spring is in the air and we naturally want to see all the beautiful buds and blooms coming up around us. But sometimes, this may not be possible. About 30% of older adults in the U.S. have some degree of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the leading cause of weakening vision. About 70% of Americans over age 75 develop cataracts, which cause clouding of the lens of the eye. As with so many other organs of the body, to maintain vision health, we must protect and nourish the eyes. Here are some tips to help you with your vision as you age:
- Shade your eyes. Sunlight can damage the lens, cause cataracts, and blast the retina, resulting in macular degeneration. Excessive direct sunlight allows free radicals to damage the vital structure of the eyes. Shading your eyes will help to preserve these precious structures. To pick the right sunglasses, make sure the lenses are coated with UV blockers and labeled according to the guidelines for ultraviolet light protection established by the American National Standards Institute.
- Feed your eyes. Eyes, like the brain, are profoundly affected by what we eat. The four groups of nutrients that feed the retina are carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin), falvnoids, vitamins, and omega-3s. Some “see” foods include salmon, blueberries, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, green peas, pumpkin, nuts, broccoli, carrots and egg yolk.
- Stay lean for good site. Having less body fat (especially around the middle) and moving your body more, decreases inflammation and improves blood vessel health, both of which can improve the health of the vital eye structures. Leanness lowers your risk of insulin resistance which can lead to myopia or nearsightedness.
- Exercise your eyes. Just like the other muscles of the body, your eyes need exercise. Eye exercises both relax the eyes and strengthen the muscles that surround the eyeball. To improve your focusing power, hold a pencil at arm’s length from your eyes. Focus on the tip of the pencil and gradually bring it toward your eyes until it becomes out of focus.