One of our five senses, our eyesight is crucial to how we function every day. As we age, many of us will be faced with changes to our eyesight that means we have reduced or impaired vision. While this is a common symptom of ageing and often inevitable for many, there are ways we can help to protect and even improve our eyesight, so it serves us better for years to come.
Vision aids including glasses and contact lenses can go some way to helping us see and there are more invasive options such as Lasik eye surgery for those who are suitable candidates, however, there are other ways we can support our sight too. Here are the best 8 ways to help improve and protect your eyesight.
- Regular eye tests
Prevention is better than a cure which is why it’s crucial to attend regular eye tests to ensure any issues are spotted early and can be dealt with before they progress. A visit to your optometrist isn’t just for checking your glasses prescription. They also look for other diseases or conditions that show up in the eyes including glaucoma and cataracts, as well as signs of more general health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Eye tests are usually conducted every two years but may be required more regularly if specified by your specialist.
- Wear the correct prescription
It might not seem like much but wearing a prescription that isn’t correct for you or is outdated can do more harm than good. Not only can wearing the wrong glasses or contact lenses make it more difficult to see, but they could also be straining your eyes and effectively degenerating them prematurely.
- Quit smoking
We know there are a whole host of health issues related to smoking and the eyes are perhaps a less common organ we think of when it comes to the effect of smoking on our body. Research has found smokers had increased risk for developing macular degeneration, especially heavy smokers that consume a pack-a-day or more. If the well-known side effects weren’t enough to help you quit, protecting your sight might change your mind.
- Use appropriate lighting
Ever found yourself squinting when the light is a bit dim? If you’re reading, undertaking craft activities or even cooking, you should ensure to provide adequate light to avoid eye strain. As you age, you will need to increase the amount of light you need to see properly. So much, that the amount of light you need to see at 20 needs to increase as much as three times by the time you’re 60. If you need additional light sources, add in extra lamps where you read or increase the wattage of your bulbs in overhead lighting in rooms such as your kitchen.
- Sun Protection
In the same way, our skin needs to be protected from harmful UV rays with SPF, our eyes are also sensitive to the effects of ultraviolet rays. Over time, exposure to sunlight without adequate protection can increase the risk of sight-related diseases such as cataracts, keratitis and conjunctival cancers. Protect your sight by wearing sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays and wear a hat when possible to reduce the exposure that can creep in from above. Don’t forget it’s not only in summer that the sun’s rays can cause damage, the reflection from snow and water is also a big contributor.
- Diet is key
Following the right diet that ensures you are consuming the vitamins and minerals, you need to keep your eyes in shape is a huge benefit. Not only do they help with your overall health, but some nutrients found in certain foods can have a huge impact on protecting your eye health.
- Antioxidants – found in a lot of dark leafy greens as well as brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, antioxidants help to fight the effects of free radicals (oxidising agents) that can contribute to eye diseases.
- Carotenoids – certain plant pigments called Lutein and zeaxanthin have been found to help protect the retina. These are commonly found in fruits and vegetables that are yellow, orange and red such as squash, carrots, grapefruit, oranges and sweet corn. They’re also found in a few greens including broccoli. Seems our parents were telling the truth when they said eating carrots would help us see in the dark!
- Healthy fats – don’t be afraid of these kinds of fats, they are actually incredibly beneficial for our health. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are found in fish, canola oil, flaxseeds and chia seeds as well as walnuts. Touted as helping with conditions related to dry eyes and cataracts, they’re also great for your overall health.
- General health
It goes without saying, but looking after your general health and wellbeing will give your eyes a better chance in the long run. Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping up an exercise regime that is suitable for your age and fitness level will improve circulation and oxygen intake as well as reduce the risk of health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Sleep is the body’s natural repair session. When it comes to our eyes, as we sleep they are constantly lubricated which can ease dry eyes as well as flush out irritants that we have accumulated throughout the day. Ensuring you get enough sleep helps your body to repair the eyes naturally and prevent irritation. 7-8 hours is recommended for adults to ensure they are getting their optimum support for their body and mind.
As you age, it’s normal for your eyesight to deteriorate and you may need to wear glasses or contact lenses. While this is common, following the suggestions above to help improve and protect your eyesight should help reduce the impact. Not only that, but they’ll also be better for your overall health. It’s a win-win really.
We understand that the impacts of vision impairment as we age can make everyday activities more difficult. At Mobility Plus, we help with a range of walk-in bath for disabled and elderly and walk-in shower solutions that take away some of the difficulty at home associated with stepping over the side of the bath or into a shower that isn’t level with your bathroom floor. We can help optimise your bathroom when your eyesight is getting in the way.