Your eyesight is an incredibly important sense, so protecting it against age-related vision loss and disease is essential.
Anyone can develop eye health problems, but they do tend to increase with age. Experts say that eyesight begins to deteriorate when you reach your 40s and poor eyesight is something that many of the over-60s struggle with.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common problems and what you can do to encourage good eye health.
Macular degeneration is the most common cause of sight loss in the UK
It occurs when the macular area of your retina begins to weaken. Dry macular degeneration is characterised by gradually worsening eyesight, whereas wet macular degeneration is a sudden loss of vision.
Itchy eyelids that stick together and are usually worse in the morning.
Blepharitis is more common in the over-40s. It isn’t serious, but it’s sometimes painful and can lead to other eye health issues such as dry eye.
If you have red, gritty eyes that stick together and get worse during the day you may have dry eyes. In extreme cases, dry eyes can lead to light sensitivity and vision deterioration.
Blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and watery eyes indicate ‘cloudy vision’.
It’s often the result of aging or cataracts, but can be the result of a damaged cornea, eye infection, diabetes, or macular degeneration too.
These are dots that float across your vision.
Floaters are not usually dangerous and usually disappear quickly. If they are accompanied by flashing or streaks of lights then it could indicate retinal detachment which needs immediate attention.
A stye is a small infected bump on your eyelash line that leads to a swollen eyelid. They can be painful but usually look worse than they feel.
One of the main reasons you should have regular eye tests.
Glaucoma is a disease affecting the optic nerve. Chronic glaucoma leads to gradual vision loss whereas acute glaucoma is a sudden build-up of pressure and blurred vision.
Both need specialist attention.
Who Is At Risk Of Vision Loss?
Vision loss and eye problems can affect anyone but gradual vision loss is more likely to affect the over-40s.
Some ethnic groups are more at risk of glaucoma through diabetes, and people with learning disabilities or a family history of eye diseases are more prone to deteriorating eyesight.
Ten Ways To Improve Your Eye Health
Some eye diseases aren’t preventable but there are ways to ensure your eyesight is in tip-top condition.
- Give Up Smoking
Smokers are more likely to develop macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Cut Down On Alcohol
Drinking more than the safe limit increases your risk of macular degeneration and type 2 diabetes that can damage your optic nerve.
- Wear Sunglasses
Wearing sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat helps block ultraviolet rays and lessens the risk of cataracts. Never look directly at the sun as it can do severe damage to your eyesight.
- Manage Screen Time
Take regular breaks from computers, phones, tablets, and the TV to avoid eye-strain.
- Ask Your Family
Eye health problems can run in families so ask around to uncover whether you’re at a higher risk.
- Take Off Makeup and Clean Your Lenses
Always remove makeup and face creams at night so the oils and colourings don’t get into your eyes and cause infections.
Dirty contact lenses and glasses can also introduce infections so clean them regularly.
- Wash Your Hands
We tend to rub our eyes a lot, but this transfers germs and dirt into our eyes.
- Have Regular Eye Tests
Opticians are trained to diagnose eye diseases and will treat the conditions you’re struggling with. A yearly appointment ensures your eyes are in good health and picks up treatable diseases in plenty of time.
- Eat Well
Eating a healthy diet full of dark-green leafy vegetables and omega 3 fatty foods such as oily fish can boost your eyesight. A well-rounded healthy diet is one of the best ways to protect and boost your vision.
- Take A Supplement
Most people can benefit from vitamin and mineral supplements. Even the smallest missing traces can knock your eyesight off balance.
Studies show the top vitamins and minerals we need for good eye health are:
Lutein, a carotenoid that supports the macula. It’s thought lutein blocks damaging light rays from the retina and fights macular degeneration.
Vitamin A which is essential to maintain a clear cornea. It creates the rhodopsin protein that boosts eyesight in low light levels too.
Vitamin C whose anti-oxidant properties boost your immune system. Studies show it may slow down cataract growth for clear, sharp vision.
Vitamin E also slows down oxidisation damage to protect against macular degeneration and cataract growth.
The B vitamins, in particular, B6, B9, and B12 fight an inflammatory protein that increases the risk of macular degeneration.
Zinc deficiencies are linked to failing eyesight. Zinc unlocks vitamin A and supports its creation of eye-protecting melanin.
How To Easily Invest In Your Eye Health
If your diet isn’t as good as it could be don’t feel bad – we’re all under time pressure.
Consider boosting your intake of vitamins and minerals with a supplement and booking your over-due eye test. It’s a small price to pay for clear, healthy vision.