You Don't Have to Act Your Age! Tips for Keeping Your Eyes Young
Aging is a natural part of life, but “getting old” doesn’t necessarily have to be.
Sure there are some things out of our control like genetics and general wear-and-tear—but there are a lot of choices we can make to keep us healthy and active well into our later years. This applies just as much to our eyes as it does our bodies.
Here’s what you can do to keep your eyes young:
• Get an annual exam. Arguably the best birthday gift you can give your eyes is a yearly vision screening. Many people think of going to the ophthalmologist or optometrist when they are having trouble seeing and need a new prescription for their glasses. In reality, however, an eye exam is so much more. Professionals can check for cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy among other things.
• Eat well. Mom always said to eat your fruits and vegetables…turns out she was right. Besides helping your overall health, these nutritional powerhouses can assist your eyes as well. Antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin can be found in many green vegetables like kale, spinach, collard greens and broccoli (plus eggs) while red berries, tomatoes and red and green peppers are good sources of vitamin C. Vitamin E is in nuts, avocados, vegetable oils and whole grains while carrots, squash and sweet potatoes among others can provide vitamin A and beta carotene. Finally look for zinc in red meat, poultry, some seafood and a variety of dairy products and fortified breakfast cereals and essential fatty acids in salmon, flax seeds and walnuts.
• Exercise. Turns out keeping active is good for more than your heart…your eyes can benefit too. Studies have shown people who exercise regularly have a decreased risk of glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. And the best news? Something as simple as a brisk walk counts…no marathon running necessary!
• Don’t smoke. Smoking—even secondhand smoke—can put you at greater risk for age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Not only that, but the more you smoke the higher the risk. Fortunately, quitting (and/or staying away from secondhand smoke) can lower the risk to almost the same as it is for people who never smoked.
• Get enough sleep. Yes, getting the right amount of shut eye can actually help stave off everything from dry eye to popped blood vessels to serious conditions like anterior ischemic optic neuropathy which can cause damage to the optic nerve. So count those sheep!
• Wear sunglasses. UVA and UVB rays from the sun can contribute to macular degeneration, cataracts and even cancer. For maximum protection, look for sunglasses that say they block 99% or 100% of all UV light.
• Keep your eyes safe. Safety first! Whether you’re working on a project at home or playing a sport, it’s important to use protective eyewear to prevent injuries.
Bottom line is that the calendar pages are going to keep turning…it’s up to us and our actions to dictate how much that will affect our bodies. Unless of course you can find the GPS coordinates for the Fountain of Youth.