Are you taking care of your vision? You should be! According to a new study, seniors who are experiencing moderate to total vision loss are at far greater risk for depression, injury, and admittance to long-term care facilities, as opposed to those who aren’t. Medicare spends more than $2 billion per year treating non-eye-related health problems in seniors who have already experienced vision loss.
It is no secret that vision is very important in maintaining your independence and a certain quality of life. Those individuals who have experienced vision loss often find even performing every day tasks to be a daunting challenge — so much so that the effort often leads to frustration and despair.
Plus, even when someone learns to adapt to vision loss, injury due to a fall is still a major concern. Falls that happen due to vision loss are among the most common cause of injuries and the top reason for hospitalization. In fact, falls account for 87% of all fractures among people who are 65 years or older.
So which eye diseases are the culprits?
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60. Macular degeneration happens when the macula — a very sensitive part of your retina that is responsible for giving you sharp focus in the center of your vision — is damaged.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. It occurs when the optic nerve is damaged. If your sight has been impaired because of glaucoma, know that it cannot be restored.
Cataracts are another leading cause of visual impairment. Cataracts affect most people if they live long enough to have them occur, which means being over 70 puts you at risk for this condition. When a cataract develops, the normally clear lens of the eye starts to become cloudy. However, cataracts can now be successfully corrected with an operation, whereas macular degeneration and glaucoma are more problematic to treat.
According to the study, the best defense against depression, injury, and the need for long-term care as a result of vision loss is still prevention. Have your eyes checked regularly and be sure to eat nutritious, well-balanced meals every day.
Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A. Vitamin A is needed by the retina for proper functioning and to prevent night blindness. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables, as well as orange and yellow vegetables and fruits. When you add these fruits and vegetables to your diet, you’ll also be getting a healthy dose of vitamin C, which helps keep the lens of the eye from developing cataracts.
And you can include zinc-rich foods in your daily meals. Zinc is found in greatest concentration in our eyes, and converts beta-carotene in vitamin A. Zinc can be found in oysters, all meat, nuts, yogurt, peas, and cheese.
Finally, include foods such as olives, parsley, salmon, tuna, egg yolks, avocados, sunflower seeds, and almonds, which are all high in vitamin E. Vitamin E can help protect your eyes against macular degeneration.
By following these simple steps you might be able to help keep your eyes healthy and strong — and prevent vision loss from reducing your ability to drive, read, or even recognize people.