For the last few years, I’ve had to keep a 6x mirror stuck to my regular bathroom mirror so that I don’t end up putting my mascara on my lips. Presbyopia (an age-related condition in which the eyes have trouble focusing on close-up objects) is a natural byproduct of getting older.
Though almost everyone is affected by presbyopia, there are several eye-related diseases that are more severe, which can be detected in their earliest stages during an annual vision screening:
Glaucoma – This is a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve. The most common is when the eye’s drainage canals are partly clogged.
Cataracts – Age-related cataracts are more often seen in people over sixty. A major cause is exposure to ultraviolet B radiation from the sun. With this disease the lens over the eye starts to cloud over, affecting vision. It’s fixed surgically by removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a permanent, plastic lens.
Macular degeneration - This is a leading cause of blindness in older people and is caused by hardening of the arteries in the macula, which is the light-sensitive tissue in the center of the retina. An annual screening is essential because it’s very hard to detect on your own. Treatment is usually medication and sometimes laser surgery.
What can you do to preserve your vision?
According to the medical experts I interviewed for my book, The Best of Everything After 50, two of the most important things you can do to help the health of your eyes are exercise and eating right. Carrots really do help, offering high levels of beta carotene which is converted into vitamin A. Vitamins C and E and Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the risks of cataracts. Needless to say, smoking and excessive sun exposure are the worst things you can do to your eyes.
What are the best things you can do for your eyes?
- Don’t smoke
- Don’t overdo sun exposure
- Always wear sunglasses to protect against rays (Bonus: Sunglasses help guard the delicate skin around the eyes, reducing wrinkles.)
- Wear hats whenever possible (This protects your facial skin, too
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables (especially carrots and sweet potatoes) and take flax seed oil daily (preferably 2 grams)
- For dry eyes, use over-the-counter moisturizing eye drops several times a day, but skip any of the ones that “get the red out.” They work only temporarily.
- Reading glasses do not have to be prescription to be effective. Over the counter is fine, as long as you buy the correct magnification number. Your ophthalmologist or optometrist can tell you what that number is.
- While using the computer, wear reading glasses that are half the number of your normal reading glasses.
- If you do a lot of work (or even fun stuff) at the computer, make sure you take regular breaks so your eyes can have a rest. Just a few minutes of looking away will help. If you can, look out a window or go outside so that you can focus on faraway objects, countering the “up close” focus of computer work.
- While at the computer, keep your seat higher, rather than lower, so that you are looking down at the computer screen. This causes your eye lids to be more closed than open, giving air less room to circulate around your eyes, which will help with “dry eye.”
Barbara Hannah Grufferman is a writer, blogger and author of The Best of Everything After 50. You can order it from www.amazon.com.