Check out these easy eye care tips to keep your eyes healthy as you age
The most sensitive organ in the body i.e. our eyes need to be well taken care of. Here's a list of eye care tips for the elderly and others to keep your eyes healthy as you age
While you revel in all the greatness of ageing, you also feel a little feeble here and little twitch there and you realise that ageing also comes with diminishing physical attributes and just like your creaking bones and not-so-supple skin, your sensory powers or eyes start getting weaker too. People after the age of 60 are more likely to develop visual impairment such as cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, reduced pupil size, dry eyes etc.
Age-related eye diseases are more likely to occur to those with comorbid conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. According to the World Health Organization, the majority of people with vision impairment and blindness are over the age of 50 years however, vision loss can affect people of all ages.
We can't stop time but we can surely take care of our eyes to keep them healthy as we age. The elderly population in any society is an indicator of successful health initiatives and sustainable public policies supporting the fact that people enjoy higher longevity and to ensure this remains constant, it is critical that the elderly follow certain eye care tips.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Parikshit Gogate, Associate Professor of Department of Ophthalmology at Dr DY Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre, revealed, “If proper care is taken, a person usually has enough vision to read, watch TV and mobile and move around independently till the end even if you live beyond 100 years! Those whose vision reduces irreversibly have an option of low vision aids and rehabilitation.” He recommended some essential tips to take care of your eyes -
1. Many eye diseases like cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy give no symptoms initially. So get your eyes checked once a year. Patients with family history of glaucoma and diabetes should especially do eye checkup regularly.
2. Keep blood sugar and blood pressure under control.
3. Contrast sensitivity and dark and light adaptation reduce with age. Be extra careful with night driving.
4. Always carry an extra pair of spectacles when you travel.
5. Don't ignore or delay your cataract treatment. Cataract surgery is safe, painless and very predictable. Also, in the process you can get your number reduced to zero.
6. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60. If eye drops are properly used then it does not lead to blindness.
7. Advanced age related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy patients can be helped with low vision aids.
8. Alcohol and tobacco consumption cause optic neuropathy. Consume it in moderation.
9. Take multivitamin supplements regularly. Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and E and the mineral zinc have been shown to promote eye health.
10. Adopting a healthy lifestyle - like getting sufficient sleep, following a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and exercising can significantly reduce vision problems. All the essential nutrients play a vital role in eye health.
Saurav Kasera, Co-Founder of Clirnet, asserted that the chances of disease progression in old age is the highest hence, suggested the following eye care tips for the elderly:
• Wear it right - The elderly eye vision is easily susceptible to glaucoma and cataract. Comorbidities like high blood pressure, poor vision, diabetes, etc. also frequently make things difficult for the elderly. Therefore, it is utmost important that they wear the right prescription glasses or contact lenses as preventive care.
• Eye nutrition - Some of the most common eye problems in elderly are dry eyes, floaters, presbyopia, etc. These occur due to impaired lid function or decreased production of eye fluids mainly accelerated by sugar overdose, menopausal changes, screen exposure, dehydration, allergies, and auto-immune diseases. Proper eye nutrition can help tackles this with a diet including less sugar, less salt, less caffeine, more water and more grains.
• Use protective glasses - Even though they are not wearing any prescription glasses the elderly must always use protective glasses, anti-glare lens, sunglasses, scarf, hat with a brim, and other variations whenever they are out in the sunlight or are using screens for long. Protection against hazardous ultraviolet rays is a must.
• Adopting a no-smoke lifestyle - As much as smoking is deleterious to health, it has also been associated with the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract. As an adult aged 40 years, the risk for AMD is 3.5 times higher by smoking. This increases to 5.5 times more if smoking habits persist beyond 60 years of age.
• Avoid eye injuries - In order to guard against minute dust particles, infinitesimally small insects, atmospheric pollution, etc., it is recommended that the elderly guard against eye injuries. Taking eye drops for possible eye infection and consulting doctor for small eye injuries safeguards against long-term eye injuries.
• Eye care - Hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes, glucose levels, and blood pressure are five systemic diseases that can increase the loss of vision. These can also affect changes in the blood vessels of the eyes leading to exudations, haemorrhages and blockage of eye’s blood vessels. It is hence recommended that the elderly must get routine check-ups to control such issues.
• Exercise daily - As much as it is required for staying fit, it becomes a necessity for the elderly to engage in 20 minutes of physical activities that can improve oxygen and blood flow to every part of the body including eyes. Some easy eye exercises for eye relaxation can be discussed from ophthalmologists to keep the eye health in check.
• Proper sleep - Eyes are self-cleaning organs. They are continuously lubricated when we sleep. Hence, it is vital that the elderly rest well and sleep enough as it assists clearing of dust and other harmful substances that have accumulated in the lids during the day.
• Regular eye tests - Especially in the above 40 years age group, the importance of annual eye-checkups have been largely underestimated. Ophthalmologists can pick up early symptoms of glaucoma, AMD, cataract and other eye diseases early on if regular eye tests are conducted.
• Take supplements - Research has shown Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E and mineral zinc promote eye health in the elderly. While balanced diets fifty years ago needed no supplement, today’s soil crops are either rover-farmed or under-farmed. This is why doctors recommend multivitamins and extra supplements as per advancing age to maintain overall eye health.
Talking about how to keep your eyes healthy as you age, Dr Chanda Gupta, Senior Consultant at Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals, advised:
1. Exercise every day - Do at least 20 minutes of exercise regularly. You can also go walking, swimming, or other sports or activities that you enjoy and keep yourself fit.
2. Get glasses checked regularly - It is always advisable to select twistable, bendable, near-indestructible eyeglasses, as elderly people are like everyone else who occasionally sits on, sleeps on, loses and occasionally may step on their eyeglasses. You should look for eye-wear in terms of their durability, anti-reflective coating and lenses that are scratch-resistant.
3. Make use of reading tools - While reading use magnifiers with in-built lights and supplement room lighting when indoors. Dimmers and candlelit rooms may looks romantic but declining vision is better served by having brighter lighting.
4. Protect your eyes from excessive bright light - Use sunglasses when you step outdoors as it protect eyes from excess strain from the bright, blazing sunlight. Always make careful consideration of sunglasses selection.
5. Prepare a nutritious meal - Consume a nutritious diet containing lots of brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables, especially those with vitamins like Omega-3 and vitamin A, as they will keep your eyes healthy.
6. Manage your mental health - Mental health is very important to good physical well-being. You can take some meditation, prayer, exercise, martial arts, etc, to help balance your emotions and taking care of your mental health.
7. Take a multivitamin - Adding a multivitamin into your daily routine can provide nutrients your food may be lacking. Adding Vitamins A, C, E and the mineral zinc can help promote eye health.
8. Get enough sleep - Being tired put strain on your eyes, making your eyes work harder. It is always advisable for elders to get enough sleep. If your whole body is well rested, your eyes will also be refreshed.
9. Stay hydrated - Always stay hydrated and drink your daily quota of water, add other beneficial drinks to your diet. You can also juices made from fruits or vegetables as they are great additional source for vitamins.
10. Don’t smoke - As we know smoking is bad for your lungs, but it’s just as bad for your eyes. Smoking also increases your chances of macular degeneration, cataracts, and other diseases that can affect your vision.
11. Go for regular eye examinations - Eye examinations once a year should be part of routine healthcare for all elders. Systemic diseases such as Diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases can affect the eyes and lead to diminution of vision. Look for an ophthalmologist with patience and experience with the elderly and who can understand their needs.