Changes in eyesight are a significant health problem for older adults, and can significantly affect your sense of independence and overall quality of life, Forbes Health reports.
By age 40, you may begin to notice slight changes in your eyesight that, if left untreated, can quickly get worse. You may find yourself holding papers and menus at arm’s length to see words more clearly, or needing more light to read comfortably. You may have difficulty driving at night because of glare from oncoming headlights.
Here are a few common age-related vision changes:
- Decreased visual acuity. You notice fewer details. It’s tested during an eye exam when you stand 20 feet from the eye chart and try to read a line of letters from the chart without your glasses or contact lenses.
- Decreases in contrast sensitivity. Your eyes are less able to detect small changes in light. Difficulty with driving at night is a common example.
- Heightened sensitivity to glare. While driving, you may be more sensitive to glare from headlights or sunlight reflecting from your windshield.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to slow down the process of aging in your eyes. Here are a few:
Get Regular Eye Exams
A dilated eye exam can find eye problems early, which is when treatment is most effective. The National Institute for Aging suggests a dilated eye exam every one to two years if:
- You’re at least 60 years old.
- You’re African American and at least 40 years old.
- You have a family history of glaucoma.
- You have diabetes.
- You have hypertension.
Wear Protection to Block Harmful UV Radiation
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is dangerous to your eyes. Length of UV radiation exposure is linked to the risk of developing cataracts, eye cancer and macular degeneration. When you’re outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat and quality sunglasses that provide UV protection.
Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Smoking is strongly linked to the development of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
Pay Attention to Nutrition
Eat a balanced diet high in fruit and green leafy vegetables that contain carotenoids, zinc, vitamins C and E. Coldwater fish, a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, may be protective against many age-related eye diseases.