Heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s are all healthcare issues that we tend to worry about as we get older. Not as many older adults put much thought into their eye health until their vision starts to deteriorate.
Don’t wait until vision problems threaten your independence. Stop eye and vision deterioration from progressing with 5 steps to better eye health.
1. Start a senior fitness program.
Exercise really is one of the best things you can do for your health.
Being active as an older adult can help you fight any number of diseases and chronic conditions—like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and mental decline—that can undermine your health and inhibit your independent senior lifestyle.
Getting a minimum of 2 and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity every week, like a brisk walk around the neighborhood every morning, can work wonders on your physical and mental wellness. Plus, getting regular aerobic exercise improves the circulation of your blood, which helps improve the health of your eyes.
2. Eat well to live well.
Eating healthy foods isn’t just for weight management. Having a nutritious diet with plenty of vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants provides a daily blast of nourishment to your eyes and promotes good vision. And eating well can reduce your risk of developing conditions, like diabetes, that effect eye health.
If you’re looking to eat eye-healthy fare try upping your intake of these foods:
- citrus fruits
- vegetable oils
- whole grains
- dark green leafy vegetables
- cold water fish
3. Stop smoking.
Quitting is winning if you’re a smoker.
Of all the unhealthy habits that seniors have picked up over the years, smoking is one of the worst.
Not only does it cause cancer, diminish your lung capacity, and put you at risk for heart disease—smoking can also increase your chances of developing conditions that can seriously impair your vision like age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, or diabetes.
If you’re looking to quit, check out the American Cancer Society’s guide to quitting smoking or look into how Medicare can help you pay for counseling.
4. Be smart about eyestrain.
We’re a pretty tech-savvy bunch here at Deupree House. We hold a lifelong learning series on all the latest gadgets and gizmos where our very own Dr. Roger Giesel helps other residents get more out of their Apple devices.
If you’re one of the 53 percent of older adults who spend time on the computer or using other mobile devices, like many of our residents are, you need to be wary of eyestrain. Staring at a computer screen for too long can put stress on your eye muscles and cause headaches, eye pain, and even blurred vision.
If you find yourself squinting to see your computer screen, there are a few steps you can take to improve your ability to read the screen and minimize the strain on your eyes:
- Adjust your screen so that is no more than 20-24 inches in front of you and only slightly below eye level.
- If you’re managing your banking or doing any other work online, keep your paperwork close by to minimize the strain of shifting between the screen and your documents.
- If there’s a glare, readjust your screen or your lighting so that light doesn’t shine directly on the monitor.
- Give your eyes a break every 15 minutes by shifting your focus from the screen to a distant object, which will relieve tension.
- Keep your eyes from drying out by blinking frequently.
5. Talk to a senior healthcare professional.
Age-related eye conditions can inhibit your ability to live independently as an older adult, but knowing your risks for common eye problems can help you take steps to stop your vision from deteriorating. So talk with your healthcare provider about developing a plan to manage lifestyle- and age-related risk factors that may increase your chances of developing eye and vision problems.
If you don’t have a primary care physician you visit regularly, don’t delay any longer. Having a good doctor may be one of the best steps you can take toward a healthy future and finding a trusted professional can be a simple process.