Rita tells us about the necessity of eye care for the elders, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
Problems with eyesight can occur at any age, but chances of acquiring vision disorders are more common in seniors. This possibility significantly increases for a person after the age of 65, which is why it is important to be informed and to have regular eye check-ups.
Diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease increase the risk of age related eye diseases. And as we get older, poor eyesight can lead to depression and anxiety–such as fear of falling, leading to unnecessary changes in gait, loss of balance, and restricted mobility, at an age when staying active is important to stay healthy. The good news is that maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular exercise, good nutrition, regular check-ups and eye vitamins or food supplements may prevent or ameliorate many of these conditions. Prevention is the best medicine for warding off debilitating eye conditions:
Eye Care Do’s and Don’ts
- Get a Regular Eye Exam
Frequent eye exams are the safest way to track vision disorders early and treat them before it is too late. Adults over age 65 should get an eye exam at least once every year.
- Maintain Normal Blood Pressure, Cholesterol and Glucose Levels
In addition to being linked to cardiovascular disorders, systemic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and atherosclerosis increase the risk of sight loss due to the effect they have on blood vessels in the eyes.
- Eat Eye-healthy Foods
A diet low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains benefits the entire body, including the eyes. Vitamin A rich foods such as carrots, papayas, mangoes, pumpkins and other orange-coloured fruits and vegetables should be regularly consumed.
Exercise is not only good for your waistline; it also it also lowers risk of vision diseases due to the increased blood flow in arteries.
- Quit Smoking
Smoking increases the risk of cataract and Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Avoid smoking as well as inhaling second-hand smoke.
- Protect Eyes from Intense Ultraviolet Light. Wear a hat with a brim when you go out, wear sunglasses that protect your eyes from UV radiation. Sunglasses that wrap around your eyes are especially beneficial.
- Watch your Sugar Intake. For almost all eye conditions, a higher sugar intake is linked to a higher risk of developing problems. For example, in the case of cataracts, sugar limits the ability of the eye to keep the lens clear.
Normal Age-Related Eye Conditions
- Dry eyes are experienced by more than75 per cent of seniors. The condition is caused by a lessened production of tears. Dry eyes can also be caused or worsened by smoking, drinking coffee, menopausal changes, computer use, overuse of sugar, dehydration, and allergies or could be a symptom of a larger problem like diabetes or auto-immune diseases. Artificial tears are sometimes prescribed but these give only temporary relief and may exacerbate the problem.
- Presbyopia or Age Related Focus Dysfunction is a blurring of close vision which makes it difficult to do fine work. While far-sightedness is caused by inherited and environmental influences on the shape of the eyeball, Presbyopia is due to age related thickening of proteins within the lens, making the lens less flexible. Glasses and/or surgery may be recommended, along with nutrition and lifestyle changes.
- Cataracts are so frequent among seniors that many eye doctors consider them to be normal. Blurry, hazy vision that worsens over time, along with over-sensitivity to light, are signs that an opaque spot on the lens of the eye may be growing and obscuring vision. Causes may include the build-up of free radicals in the metabolism, chronic stress or pain of the back and neck, food sensitivities or allergies, side-effects of prescribed drugs, smoking, and poor digestion. Cataracts may also be formed as a result of an unrelated eye surgery or diseases such as diabetes.
- Reduced Pupil Size makes seniors’ pupils less responsive to changes in ambient lighting, needing more light for reading and protection from bright sunlight.
- Loss of Peripheral Vision can produce a 20 to 30 per cent decrease in field of vision by the time we reach our 70s.
- Decreased Colour Vision is caused by cells in the retina becoming less sensitive to colour.
- Spots and Floaters are caused by the gel-like vitreous inside the eye becoming more liquid and pulling away from the retina.
Serious Eye Conditions
- Glaucoma refers to diseases that cause optic nerve damage, some of which are related to an increase in intraocular pressure, causing progressive vision loss. Symptoms are very few until diminished vision is noticed. Conventional treatments can be pretty drastic but research shows that vigorous exercise may reduce the intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma.
- Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness among Indians over the age of 65. Dry macular degeneration causes gradual central vision loss and results from aging and thinning of tissues in the macula or from a deposit of pigment. Wet macular degeneration arises from the body’s attempt to make up for lack of nutrients by building extra blood vessels beneath the retina, but the new blood vessels leak fluid, causing permanent damage to the retinal cells.
- Diabetic retinopathy is vision threatening damage to the retina caused by diabetes. Blindness is largely preventable if the patient and doctor work together for proper use of medications, blood sugar testing, proper diet and lifestyle, and supplements.
Foods for Healthy Eyes
- Carrots and other orange-colored fruits and vegetables promote eye health and protect vision. Orange fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A that gives these foods their orange hue and help the retina and other parts of the eye to function smoothly.
- Leafy greens are packed with lutein and zeaxanthin—antioxidants that lower the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Egg yolk is a prime source of lutein and zeaxanthin—plus zinc, which also helps reduce your macular degeneration risk.
- Citrus and berries are powerhouses of vitamin C, which has been shown to reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Almonds are filled with vitamin E, which slows macular degeneration, one handful of almonds provides about half of your daily dose of E.
- Fatty fish like Indian salmon, Indian carp, Indian mackerel, and carpo are rich in DHA, a fatty acid found in your retina—low levels of which have been linked to dry eye syndrome and other eye conditions.
Photos from the Internet
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