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8 Essential & Healthy Eye Care Tips for Senior Citizens

Contributed by: Nancy Dixit

Introduction

“To have a healthy vision is a blessing that cannot be taken lightly”.

For any society, its elderly population is a source of great wisdom and pride.

Problems with eyesight can occur at any age but are more common in seniors. For most eye conditions the risk rate increases for people over 70 years or over 80 years old.

As far as the eye health of seniors is concerned, it is vital to encourage healthy lifestyles that promote eye health in the long term.

And as we get older poor eyesight can lead to depression and anxiety – such as fear of falling – producing unnecessary changes in gait, loss of balance, and restricted mobility at a time of life when staying active is important to maintain health and quality of life.

We take such great care of the rest of our body all with exercises and asanas but somehow we ignore our eyes. These, too need a conscious effort from our end to protect and maintain them. 

Regular eye checkups

You must get your eyes checked regularly by an eye care professional- either an ophthalmologist or optometrist. 

Normal changes in the ageing eye usually do not harm your vision. However, sometimes they can be signs of a more serious problem. 

You should make a list of your questions and concerns to share with the doctor and inform the detailed medical history including the medications you are taking.

Even a little bit of carelessness can pick up diseases like cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, dry eye and glaucoma in the initial stages, but it can also lead to some systemic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension etc.

Wear your prescription glasses

Most seniors require glasses for near and distance. Wearing them regularly ensures better vision, and consequently, decreases the risk of falls and accidents. 

When you aren’t wearing your glasses, you have to strain your eyes a lot more to see things, and that can cause pain in your head.

Not wearing your glasses can also cause you to feel fatigued and may negatively impact your energy levels.

Wear protective glasses

Protecting eyes from harmful ultraviolet light is very important.

You should protect your eyes from sunlight by wearing sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) radiation and a hat with a wide brim when you are outside.

Tip: Encourage your parents to wear sunglasses or even prescription glasses with a UV protecting coating to protect their eyes from harmful rays.

Do not smoke

Smoking has long been known to cause heart disease and lung cancer; however many people don’t realize that smoking can lead to vision loss. 

Quit smoking if you are already facing certain retinal diseases as it can contribute to and also accelerate vision loss. 

As per studies, smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and dry eye syndrome.

Did you know for macular degeneration, the risk is 2.5 to 3.5 times greater if you smoke? If you are over 80 and smoke, the risk of AMD increases to 5.5 times.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle

Your diet plays a vital role. Consider eye-healthy food choices include antioxidant-rich, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale or collard greens.

It helps fight off free radicals that can damage the retina.

Along with food, exercise is necessary for maintaining general physical health and warding off disease. 

Our eyes, just like the rest of the body require proper blood circulation and oxygen intake, and regular exercise stimulates both.

Nourish your eyes with exercise

Our eyes need good blood circulation and oxygen intake, which regular exercise provides.

Exercise also helps keep our weight in the normal range, reducing the risk of sight-stealing diabetes.

Regular check on blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels

Comorbidities such as hypertension, or diabetes are not only linked to cardiovascular disorders, but they can also lead to an increased risk of loss of vision due to adverse changes in the blood vessels of the eyes. 

It is advised to keep monitoring blood sugar levels or blood pressure regularly. If left unchecked or ignored can contribute to severe retinal damage in the elderly.

It can cause haemorrhages, exudations, and even blockage of blood vessels in the eye.

Keeping your blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels within the normal range will ensure better retinal health.

Sleep well for healthy eyes

The eye needs at least five hours of sleep per night to properly replenish. Without enough time to revive themselves, your eyes cannot work at their full potential. 

Not getting enough sleep can lead to dry, itchy, or bloodshot eyes. You can also experience eye spasms associated with lack of sleep as a side effect.

Final thoughts

Ageing does increase the risk for some sight-threatening eye conditions, which is why it is essential that we ensure that older people have good access to eye care services.

There has been an increasing awareness about eye health and healthy vision in recent times. We have become more health-conscious and don’t want to feel crippled by spectacles and eye impairments.

Here we have mentioned a few healthy eye tips which can be of great help for everyone among adults and the elderly.

It is crucial to regularly visit an optometrist or ophthalmologist to get your eyes checked.

Additionally, it is advised to always tell your ophthalmologist about your health conditions and what medications and nutritional supplements you take.

Furthermore, you should also undergo preventive health checkups. These health checks give a complete report about your health, allowing you to take necessary precautionary measures to improve your well-being and keep a host of ailments at bay.

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