Unfortunately, as we age, it’s not uncommon for problems to develop with our eyes and eyesight. Just as with other areas of the body, our sight can often deteriorate over time through the natural wear and tear of the ageing process.
Nonetheless, maintaining good eyesight through your life need not be a huge challenge. By following some simple guidelines and taking sensible precautions you can avoid the most common eye problems and help prolong a lifetime of healthy sight.
Sight problems caused by ageing
Unfortunately, the ageing process often can cause numerous problems for our sight. Of these, cataracts are by far the most common and it’s estimated that in England and Wales, around 2.5 million people aged 65 or older are affected by cataracts.
Thankfully cataract treatment involves a relatively simple operation to eliminate the cloudiness in vision by replacing the lens on the eye with a new artificial lens (for example, using the PanOptix trifocal lens) and the majority of patients report no pain or discomfort. The operation typically takes around an hour and can be done under just a local anaesthetic.
Other age-related eye diseases (AREDs) include glaucoma, macular degeneration, dry eyes, presbyopia, and diabetic retinopathy. In each case, the earlier these problems are diagnosed, the higher the chances are of success through treatment.
The importance of regularly visiting an optometrist
The best way to fully diagnose and treat developing eye problems is to visit an optometrist. As with so many other areas of life, prevention is better than cure, and an eye specialist can spot developing issues long before they become a problem.
As a general rule, you should visit an optometrist once in your 20s, twice in your 30s, once at 40 (along with any recurring prescribed visits) and every one or two years when you reach the age of 65.
Ways to keep your eyes and eyesight healthy
Taking sensible precautions and making small lifestyle changes can have a hugely beneficial influence on your eyes and eyesight:
Make regular visits to an optometrist: As outlined above, frequent visits to an optometrist are essential to maintain good eye health – particularly if you are of Hispanic or African/Native American descent as these nationalities have a higher prevalence of eye issues. Also, if you are overweight or have a history of eye problems in your family, you should ensure you see an eye specialist regularly.
Quit smoking: The dangers of smoking are already well documented; however, you might be surprised to learn it’s also bad for your eyes and can increase the chances of developing cataracts or macular degeneration.
Eat healthily: There’s truth to the saying, ‘We are what we eat,’ and following a balanced diet will work wonders on your eyes. Aim to regularly eat dark greens (for anti-oxidants) and fish (high in omega-3s) – both of which are good for your looking after your eyesight.
Take regular exercise: Exercising helps reduce the chances of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol – all of which can cause eye problems.
Wear sunglasses: Sunglasses shield your eyes, even on a cloudy day. Aim for glasses that block out 99-100% of both UVA and UVB radiation.
Rest your eyes: If you spend any length of time in front of a screen in your job or at home, remember to take regular breaks. Try looking away from the screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds and focus on an object around 20 feet in the distance to give your eyes a much-needed rest.