Let the view be. If there’s one thing we fear losing as we age, that’s definitely our vision. Eye health is so important, especially when you remember spending a large majority of your days staring at a screen, which certainly accelerates the rate at which our eyesight ages. Therefore, it is more vital than ever for us to take the necessary steps to take care of our eyesight, especially if we want to always be able to see the future we envision for ourselves.
Eye health through the ages
You may have noticed that your vision isn’t as clear as it was a few years ago, and that’s because different stages of your life tend to affect your vision. In fact, read on to learn more about how your outlook changes over the years.
In your 20s and 30s
The biggest cause for concern during this time in your life is eye strain and potential eye injury. Long-term exposure to blue light and constant staring at the screen can cause eye irritation and fatigue, causing blurred vision, dry eyes, and even headaches.
in my forties
Now is when the changes in your eyesight start to become more evident. Here are some of the changes you’ll likely notice in your vision during quarantine:
Did you know that the amount of tears produced by your lacrimal glands decreases with age? As a result, your eyes start to dry out, and this is made worse by staring at a screen all day.
Reduced reading vision (presbyopia)
Your eyes have lenses and depending on where an object is, the lenses change in size. When you read or watch something close, your lens grows, and it is able to do that when you are young.
Unfortunately, as you age, the elasticity of the lens decreases and your eye muscles weaken, making it difficult for you to see things up close.
Difficulty seeing at night
It’s not just the elasticity of your lens that changes over the years. The photoreceptors in your eyes, responsible for filtering out color, also begin to age, making it difficult for you to see in the dark, which can be especially dangerous if you’re prone to driving at night.
Glaucoma is an eye condition that damages the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, and affects more than 80 million people worldwide. If left untreated, this condition can lead to vision loss.
Although it is not a disease linked to aging, the risk of glaucoma increases in the 40s. In addition to genetics, other risk factors include high internal eye pressure and chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
The condition occurs when the lens begins to become cloudy, causing blurred vision and poor night vision. As the eye lens is made up of protein and water, the aging process causes these proteins to bind together, resulting in cloudiness.
Like glaucoma, the risk of cataracts increases after age 40, and risk factors include smoking, obesity, diabetes, and excessive sun exposure.
The macula is the part of the eye responsible for your central vision and if damaged it can cause blurred or reduced vision. Unfortunately, the aging process causes changes in the macula, which then affect our vision. In fact, age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of visual impairment in the industrialized world and the third leading cause worldwide.
In addition to age and genetics, macular degeneration has also been linked to smoking, obesity and increased sun exposure.
In his fifties
If you worry about your vision in your 40s, your risk of developing any of the aforementioned eye conditions only increases once you reach your 50s.
In your 60s and beyond
If you thought having eye disease in your 40s and 50s was bad, wait until you’re 60. It is during this period that, if left untreated, eye conditions can permanently damage your vision. A particularly scary eye condition that can affect you during this time is rhegmatogenous retinal detachment. It happens when your retina detaches from the tissue and can potentially lead to vision loss if not treated immediately.
How to protect the longevity of vision
If you hope to maintain a 20/20 vision for the next 20 years and beyond, there are a few effective steps you can take.
1. Get your eyes checked
The best way to maintain your vision health is to have regular eye exams. We are not interested in the quality of your vision, just pass the tests. Depending on your age, there are recommendations for how often should you have your eyesight tested;
- 20 to 39: Every 5 years
- 40 to 54: Every 2 to 4 years
- 55 to 64: Every 1 to 3 years
- 65 and over: Every 1 to 2 years
2. Eat for vision
You are what you eat, and so is your eyesight. According to a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, the rate of age-related macular degeneration was three times higher in participants who consumed a diet rich in processed foods, red meat, high fat dairy products and sugary drinks.
To protect your vision health, it’s best to eat foods that contain eye-protecting nutrients. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the best nutrients for your eyes, as they have been linked to better vision and a reduced risk of developing eye disease.
These nutrients can be found in leafy green vegetables, egg yolks as well as grapes, corn and peppers. Additional nutrients that may protect eye health include vitamins A, C, and E, omega fatty acids, and zinc.
If you are looking for a diet that is good for your eyesight, could we recommend the mediterranean diet? According to a study Posted in Ophthalmology, of the 5,000 participants analyzed aged 55 and over, those who joined the The Mediterranean diet was 41% less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration.
Exercise is good for the mind, body, soul and eyes. Now, while you may be wondering how sweat running down your face and into your eyes is supposed to improve your vision, there is research that supports the benefits of fitness for eye health.
4. Get blue light protection
It can be difficult to escape exposure to blue light, especially since we spend a lot of time staring at our screens and blue light also comes from the sun. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself from it.
Invest in a good pair of anti-UV sunglasses, as well as blue light blocking glasses when working on your laptop, can help protect your vision from blue light damage.
5. Quit smoking
Frankly, you shouldn’t even do it, but if you’re a smoker, it’s important that you quit, especially if you want to keep your eyesight.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smokers are twice as likely to develop age-related macular denigration and two to three times as likely to develop cataracts (1).
If you’re having trouble quitting smoking, it may be best to join a support group, invest in nicotine patches, and recognize and avoid your triggers.
At the end of the line
The gift of sight is not to be taken for granted. Now while there continues to be advances in vision correctionthat doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a proactive approach to protecting your eyes over the years.
2. Dighe, S., Zhao, J., Steffen, L., Mares, JA, Meuer, SM, Klein, B., Klein, R. and Millen, AE (2020). Diets and incidence of age-related macular degeneration in the ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) study. The British Journal of Ophthalmology, 104(8), 1070-1076. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjophthalmol-2019-314813
3. Keenan, TD, Agrón, E., Mares, J., Clemons, TE, van Asten, F., Swaroop, A., Chew, EY, & Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS) 1 and 2 groups of research (2020). Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and progression to late onset age-related macular degeneration in age-related eye disease studies 1 and 2. Ophthalmology, 127(11), 1515-1528. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ophtha.2020.04.030
4. Makin, R., Argyle, D., Hirahara, S., Nagasaka, Y., et al. (2020), Voluntary exercise suppresses choroidal neovascularization in mice. Invest. Ophthalmol. Screw. Science. 61(5):52. do I: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.61.5.52.
5. Pan, X., Xu, K., Wang, X. et al. Evening exercise is associated with a lower likelihood of visual field progression in Chinese patients with primary open-angle glaucoma. Eye and Screw seven, 12 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40662-020-0175-9
6. Pennington, KL, & DeAngelis, MM (2016). Epidemiology of age-related macular degeneration (AMD): associations with cardiovascular disease phenotypes and lipid factors. Eye and Vision (London, England), 334. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40662-016-0063-5