Seven Sight-Saving Habits for Older Adults to Help Maintain Independence*
In the United States, 1 in 6 Americans over age 65 has a visual impairment that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. This is often caused by common eye conditions and diseases. Among older Americans, visual impairment is one of the most significant contributors to loss of independence and is associated with a higher prevalence of chronic health conditions, falls, injuries, depression and social isolation.
Here’s a list of seven tips for seniors to follow to help protect their vision:
1. Get an Eye Exam. Adults age 65 and over should get a medical eye exam every year. Regular eye exams are crucial in detecting changes in vision, which may be a symptom of a treatable eye disease or condition.
2. Know the Symptoms of Vision Loss. Know the signs of vision loss which includes difficulty reading, writing, watching TV, driving and recognizing faces and objects. Others may notice signs of visions loss such as bumping into or knocking over objects, stepping hesitantly, and squinting or tilting the head when trying to focus.
3. Make Eye-Healthy Food Choices. A diet low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains benefits the entire body, including the eyes. Studies show that foods rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin are good for eye health.
4. Quit Smoking. Avoiding smoking and second hand smoke are some of the best investments you can make for long-term eye health. Smoking increases risk for eye diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
5. Maintain normal blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels. High blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose (sugar) levels all increase the risk of vision loss from an eye disease. Keeping these under control will not only help one’s eyes but also overall health.
6. Get Regular Physical Activity. Regular exercise benefits one’s heart, waistline and energy level and it can also do the eyes a world of good! Many eye diseases are linked to other health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol levels.
7. Wear Sunglasses. Exposure to ultra violet (UV) light raises the risks of eye diseases, including cataract, growths on the eye and cancer. Always wear sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection, and a hat while enjoying time outdoors.
*American Academy of Ophthalmology