While you revel in all the greatness of aging, you also feel a little weak here and a little twitch there and realize that aging also comes with diminishing physical attributes and just like your creaking bones and your not so supple skin, sensory powers or eyes also start to weaken. People after the age of 60 are more likely to develop visual impairment such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, reduced pupil size, dry eye, etc.
Age-related eye diseases are more likely to occur in people with comorbid conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. According to the World Health Organization, the majority of people with visual impairment and blindness are over the age of 50, but vision loss can affect people of all ages.
We can’t stop time, but we can surely take care of our eyes to keep them healthy as we age. The elderly population in any society is an indicator of successful health initiatives and sustainable public policies supporting the fact that people enjoy greater longevity and to ensure that this remains constant, it is essential that older people follow certain eye care tips.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Parikshit Gogate, Associate Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at Dr. DY Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Center, revealed, “If proper care is taken, a person usually has sufficient vision to read, watch TV and mobile and move independently until the end even if you live beyond 100 years! Those whose vision is irreversibly reduced have the option of using low vision aids and rehabilitation. He recommended some essential tips to take care of your eyes –
1. Many eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy initially have no symptoms. So have your eyes checked once a year. Patients with a family history of glaucoma and diabetes should especially have regular eye check-ups.
2. Keep blood sugar and blood pressure under control.
3. Contrast sensitivity and adaptation to dark and light decrease with age. Be very careful with night driving.
4. Always carry an extra pair of glasses when traveling.
5. Don’t skip or delay your cataract treatment. Cataract surgery is safe, painless and very predictable. Also, in the process, you can reduce your number to zero.
6. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over 60. If eye drops are used correctly, they do not lead to blindness.
7. Patients with advanced age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy can be helped with low vision aids.
8. Alcohol and tobacco consumption causes optic neuropathy. Consume it in moderation.
9. Take multivitamin supplements regularly. Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E and the mineral zinc have been shown to support eye health.
10. Adopting a healthy lifestyle – like getting enough sleep, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and exercising can significantly reduce vision problems. All essential nutrients play a vital role in eye health.
Saurav Kasera, co-founder of Clirnet, asserted that the risks of disease progression in the elderly are highest and therefore suggested the following eye care tips for the elderly:
• Wear it correctly – The vision of the eyes of the elderly is easily susceptible to glaucoma and cataracts. Comorbidities such as high blood pressure, poor vision, diabetes, etc. also often make things difficult for the elderly. Therefore, it is extremely important that they wear the right eyeglasses or contact lenses as a preventive measure.
• Eye nutrition – Some of the most common eye problems in the elderly are dry eyes, floaters, presbyopia, etc. These occur due to impaired eyelid function or decreased eye fluid production mostly accelerated by sugar overdose, menopausal changes, screen exposure, dehydration, allergies and a car. -immune diseases. Good eye nutrition can help solve this problem with a diet that includes less sugar, less salt, less caffeine, more water, and more grains.
• Use protective goggles – Even if they don’t wear prescription glasses, seniors should still use goggles, anti-reflective lenses, sunglasses, a scarf, a brimmed hat, and other variations when exposed to the sun or use screens for a long time. Protection against harmful ultraviolet rays is essential.
• Adopt a smoke-free lifestyle – Even though smoking is harmful to your health, it has also been linked to the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. As a 40-year-old adult, the risk of AMD is 3.5 times higher when smoking. This rises to 5.5 times more if smoking habits persist beyond age 60.
• Avoid eye injuries – In order to guard against minute dust particles, infinitely small insects, air pollution, etc., the elderly are recommended to guard against eye injury. Taking eye drops for possible eye infection and seeing a doctor for minor eye injuries protects against long-term eye injury.
• Eye care – Hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes, blood sugar and blood pressure are five systemic diseases that can increase vision loss. These can also affect changes in the blood vessels of the eyes leading to exudates, hemorrhages and blockage of blood vessels in the eyes. It is therefore recommended that the elderly undergo routine examinations to control these problems.
• Daily exercise – As much as is necessary to stay fit, it becomes a necessity for older people to engage in 20 minutes of physical activities that can improve oxygen and blood flow to all parts of the body, including the eyes. Some easy eye exercises for eye relaxation can be discussed by ophthalmologists to keep eye health under control.
• Good sleep – The eyes are self-cleaning organs. They are continuously lubricated when we sleep. Therefore, it is essential for older people to rest well and get enough sleep, as this helps remove dust and other harmful substances that have accumulated in the eyelids during the day.
• Regular eye tests – Especially in the over 40 age group, the importance of annual eye exams has been grossly underestimated. Ophthalmologists can detect early symptoms of glaucoma, AMD, cataracts and other eye diseases early if regular eye tests are performed.
• Take supplements – Research has shown that vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E and the mineral zinc promote eye health in the elderly. Whereas fifty years ago balanced diets needed no supplements, today’s soil crops are either road grown or underutilized. That’s why doctors recommend additional multivitamins and supplements based on age to maintain overall eye health.
Talking about how to keep your eyes healthy as you age, Dr. Chanda Gupta, Senior Consultant at Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals, advised:
1. Exercise every day – Get at least 20 minutes of regular exercise. You can also do walking, swimming or other sports or activities that you enjoy and keep fit.
2. Have your glasses checked regularly – It is always advisable to choose glasses that are twisted, bendable and nearly indestructible, because old people are like everyone else who sits, sleeps, loses and sometimes steps on their glasses. You should look for glasses in terms of durability, anti-reflective coating and scratch resistant lenses.
3. Use reading tools – While reading, use magnifying glasses with built-in lights and supplemental room lighting when indoors. Dimmers and candlelit rooms may seem romantic, but fading vision is best served by brighter lighting.
4. Protect your eyes from excessive bright light – Use sunglasses when going outdoors, as they protect the eyes from excessive strain caused by sunlight. Always pay attention to the selection of sunglasses.
5. Prepare a nutritious meal – Eat a nutritious diet with plenty of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, especially those that contain vitamins like omega-3s and vitamin A, as these will keep your eyes healthy.
6. Manage your mental health – Mental health is very important for good physical well-being. You can do meditation, prayer, exercise, martial arts, etc., to balance your emotions and take care of your mental health.
7. Take a multivitamin – Adding a multivitamin to your daily routine can provide nutrients that your food may be lacking. Adding vitamins A, C, E and the mineral zinc can help promote eye health.
8. Get enough sleep – Being tired puts a strain on your eyes, which forces them to work harder. Older people are always advised to get enough sleep. If your whole body is well rested, your eyes will also be refreshed.
9. Stay hydrated – Always stay hydrated and drink your daily quota of water, add other beneficial beverages to your diet. You can also use fruit or vegetable juices, as they are an excellent additional source of vitamins.
10. Do not smoke – As we know, smoking is bad for your lungs, but it’s also bad for your eyes. Smoking also increases your risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, and other conditions that can affect your vision.
11. Go for regular eye exams – Eye exams once a year should be part of routine health care for all seniors. Systemic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease can affect the eyes and lead to decreased vision. Look for an eye doctor who has patience and experience with older people and who can understand their needs.