September Is Healthy Aging Month

Elderly couple riding a bike together

Did you know that September is Healthy Aging Month? There are lots of programs and articles for seniors about eating well and exercising. 

But they don’t usually mention good vision. We want to focus on healthy aging in relation to your eyes. Keep reading for 7 lifestyle habits that may help you maintain good vision as you age!

1. Have regular comprehensive eye exams

People between the ages of 55-64 should have a regular eye exam every 1 to 3 years. After e 65, you must have a regular exam every 1 to 2 years even if you don’t have symptoms. 

Many people assume they are OK because they can see well at a distance. They may think their glasses prescription seems adequate. 

They don’t realize that some eye diseases can progress and damage vision before they realize it. One example is glaucoma, which damages peripheral vision. 

Glaucoma afflicts millions of people every year. Your eye doctor can detect early symptoms of eye diseases.  If you do have an eye condition, they can start prompt treatment to reduce vision loss.

2. Protect your eyes from UV rays

Overexposure to the sun can cause permanent damage to the cornea, the lens of the eye, eyelid, and the retina.  Aging increases the chance of developing cataracts and macular degeneration from UV exposure. 

Protect your eyes by consistently wearing sunglasses, even on cloudy, hazy days. Be sure to choose sunglasses based on UV protection and not how fashionable they are. 

Experts recommend labels say “100% protection from UVA and UVB” or “100% protection from UV 400”.  The best sunglasses wrap around the eyes to provide more protection.  

3. Stop smoking

Everyone knows that smoking can cause lung cancer and other diseases.  Most people don’t realize that smoking is also equally bad for your eyes.

There is a connection between smoking and cataracts and macular degeneration. 

In fact, the FDA is currently proposing new warning labels for cigarette packages. These new labels draw attention to the possibility that smoking leads to blindness. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health.

4. Be Careful about Screen Time

Too much time watching TV or staring at your device screens can lead to dry eye syndrome. Staring at screens decreases the number of times you blink. 

Insufficient blinking reduces eye lubrication and makes your eyes feel dry and irritated. Try the 20/20/20 exercise: Every 20 minutes, take a break of at least 20 seconds and look at an object 20 feet away.

5. Increase Your Intake of “Super Foods”

There are certain healthy and delicious foods beneficial for eye health. People who eat foods with omega-3 fatty acids in them are less likely to develop macular degeneration. 

Try consuming fish such as salmon and tuna 2-3 times per week. Blueberries are a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the eyes. 

Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale contain powerful antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. This helps filter out damaging light from the retina. 

Oranges, other citrus fruits, and red peppers contain the important Vitamin C. 

Finally, don’t forget those carrots!

6. Get the Latest Shingles Vaccine

Shingles is a painful virus that develops from the varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox.   About 1 in 3 people who have had chickenpox develop shingles later in life.   

Nearly everyone over age 40 in the U.S. has had chickenpox and is vulnerable to shingles. Shingles will often appear around the eye and can affect the cornea. 

Check with your doctor and arrange to get a shingles vaccine as soon as possible if you haven’t already had one.

7. Protect Your Eyes from Injury 

Be careful when you are doing yard work or projects around the house. Eye injuries can occur if your lawnmower or snowblower hits a small rock.  

Paint and chemical solvents can also irritate the eyes. Wearing safety goggles is always a good idea. 

Looking to keep your eyes healthy, no matter what age you are? Schedule an eye exam at VisionFirst Eye Center in Birmingham, AL today!

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