About 3 million older Americans suffer from some degree of vision impairment, often due to eye issues like cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) — all of which become more common as we get older. The good news: Many people can decrease their risks of these problems and improve their eye health just by adopting a few simple habits.
At Advanced Lasik, Randa Garrana, MD, helps older patients understand their eye risks and take proactive steps to keep their eyes healthy. Here’s what she says you can do to improve your eye health now and as you age.
1. Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep is a time for our bodies to repair damaged cells and tissues, and that includes the structures of your eyes. Plus, when we sleep, our eyes are closed, allowing our eyes to get a good “dose” of lubricating fluids. Ample sleep also helps avoid “tired” eyes during the day.
2. Limit screen time
Staring at a computer, tablet, or phone screen for hours a day can irritate your eyes and even increase the risks of dry eye and eye strain. If you must use a lighted screen, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends taking a 20-second break after 20 minutes of screen time to stare at something 20 feet away (the 20-20-20 rule) to give your eyes a chance to relax.
3. Pay attention to nutrition
Just like the rest of your body, your eyes depend on good nutrition to stay healthy and keep functioning. Eating foods high in zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamins C and E may help reduce the risk of age-related eye problems. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids — like oily fish, nuts, or avocados — can also help your eyes.
4. Ask about eye supplements
Over-the-counter vitamins designed for eye health may be useful for “filling in the gaps” in your diet. Ask Dr. Garrana if she recommends eye vitamin supplements for your needs.
5. Use artificial tears
Dry eyes happen more frequently as we get older, causing symptoms like excess tearing, itching, burning, and redness. Using artificial tears relieves symptoms and may help protect your eyes from corneal scratches and infections that happen more often when your eyes are dry.
6. Quit smoking
Smoking severely impacts your circulation, and that’s bad news for your eyes. Research shows smoking increases risks of cataracts and macular degeneration, along with infections and other eye health problems.
7. Manage your blood pressure
About half of all American adults have high blood pressure — but only a quarter of them have their hypertension under control. High blood pressure increases our risks of glaucoma and other vision problems. If you have hypertension, or if you’re at risk for it, ask your doctor what you can do to keep your blood pressure under control.
8. Manage your blood sugar
High glucose levels increase your risks of several eye problems; in fact, vision loss is a major complication of diabetes. Work closely with your doctor to make sure your glucose management plan stays on track, especially as your needs change with age.
9. Stay physically active
Exercise improves circulation, providing your eyes with plenty of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood. Plus, exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, which is helpful in managing your blood sugar and blood pressure.
10. Use UV protection
You know UV rays can burn your skin, but those rays can damage your eyes, too. Always wear sunglasses with UV protection, and consider adding a hat with a brim to keep light from reaching your eyes.
Don’t take your vision for granted
Having routine eye exams is important at any age, but especially as you get older. With offices in New York City and Pasadena and Long Beach, California, Dr. Garrana uses the most advanced techniques to diagnose eye problems as early as possible.
To schedule your eye exam at Advanced Lasik or to learn what else you can do to keep your eyes healthy, book an appointment online or over the phone today.