I hate to be the bearer of bad news (again), but as a loyal reader, I have to warn you: if you’re over 50, there’s no way around it—you’re at risk for losing your sight. In fact, four major eye diseases become a reality once you hit the half-century mark, and the risk goes up nearly every year following. If you don’t start taking care of your eyes now, you might not be able to enjoy your full sight much longer.
Cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and diabetic retinopathy are all major threats for aging adults. For example, half of all people between 65 and 74 years old have cataracts, while 70% get them after they turn 75—that’s a very significant portion of the population.
Although there is debate over the cause, and thus prevention, of these conditions, there are some recommendations that are generally agreed upon.
Here’s what you can do to help keep your vision clear as you age:
1. Make Regular Visits to the Eye Doctor
Making regular visits to the optometrist can be expensive and not every insurance plan covers it, but it’s extremely important to the health of your eyes. An eye doctor is really the only person who can get a good look into your eyes to see if problems are arising. They can spot a problem and treat it before it becomes untreatable.
- Before you’re 40, make a visit every two years.
- Between 40 and 54, make an appointment with your eye doctor every one to three years.
- Between 55 and 64, make an appointment every year or two.
- After 65, you should see your eye doctor every six to 12 months, ideally.
2. Get Exercise and Maintain a Healthy Weight
People who get moderate exercise and keep their weight down tend to experience less risk for eye diseases. Some eye diseases, namely glaucoma, AMD, and diabetic retinopathy, are closely associated with high blood pressure and blood sugar. Exercise helps keep your weight down and in check, while regulating blood sugar and promoting lower blood pressure. Try to aim for three moderate activity sessions per week, lasting at least 30 minutes each.
3. Watch What You Put Into Your Body
Smoking, alcohol consumption, and your overall diet can also play a role in boosting (or lowering, if you’re making good decisions) your risk for eye disease. Therefore, limiting your alcohol intake and quitting smoking are highly recommended. Eating a diet that’s rich in leafy green vegetables and lots of fruits, as well as healthy fats and lean protein, to regulate blood sugar and keep down cholesterol levels—that can also play a role in eye disease risk—is also recommended.
These eye problems arise, in most cases, due to age. But how you live your life plays a big role in how your body reacts. Do your best to stay on top of your eye health through regular trips to the eye doctor and by adopting a preventative lifestyle that promotes healthy blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol levels.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“AMD Risk Factors,” Canadian National Institute for the Blind web site, 2014; http://www.cnib.ca/en/your-eyes/eye-conditions/eye-connect/AMD/Prevention/Pages/RiskFactors.aspx.
Stamper, R., “What Can I Do to Prevent Glaucoma?” Glaucoma Research Foundation web site, April 25, 2012; http://www.glaucoma.org/gleams/what-can-i-do-to-prevent-glaucoma.php, last accessed December 2, 2014.
“Diabetic Retinopathy Risk Factors,” Mayo Clinic web site, March 27, 2012; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-retinopathy/basics/risk-factors/con-20023311, last accessed December 2, 2014.
“Cataracts Prevention,” Mayo Clinic web site, July 30, 2013; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/basics/prevention/con-20015113, last accessed December 2, 2014.