Eye health is an essential part of both ours and our children’s holistic health and wellbeing that can easily be neglected. Our eyes are directly responsible for how we see the world and how easily we can navigate through life. Vision problems may lead to undesirable changes in our lifestyle if left untreated for too long. It is imperative that we make our best effort to protect our aging eyes. Luckily, maintaining good eye health can be achieved with ease and without investing much time or energy.
REGULAR EYE TESTING FOR PREVENTION
Early detection of potential problems with eyesight is key to protecting your child’s vision, ensuring they see with clarity for the entirety of their lives. Regular eye testing will pick up changes in vision that could lead to issues later in your child’s life. The necessity and frequency of which eye tests are needed increases with age.
Establishing a baseline for your optometrist to work from and allowing him or her to properly monitor any problems with your vision as they develop will do a world of good. Minor changes in our vision continue throughout life, which is why eye testing should become an integral part of everyone’s regular healthcare regimen. Early intervention can often obviate problems later in life.
Prior to commencing an eye examination, your optometrist should perform a brief medical history check. It is worth mentioning any medication you may be taking as some medication can cause unexpected side effects such as dry eyes. In addition to regular eye tests, having regular physical examinations are equally important as they can reveal the underlying causes to any eye problems you may be experiencing. Conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure will have an impact on eye health.
TAKE NUTRITION INTO CONSIDERATION
Nutrition plays large influencing factor in preventing negative effects to everyone’s eyesight. The multitude of positive effects on health and wellbeing that eating healthily, with the intention of nourishing our body has, is almost endless.
In older age, difficulty with near vision focus (presbyopia) is almost inevitable. Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants will help stem deterioration. An American study found that older people whose diets had healthy inclusions of zinc and copper reduced their risk of moderate vision loss by 19 percent. Advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) was also reduced by 25 percent. Consuming foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and walnuts and washing them down with a hot cup of Rooibos tea. Conversely, eating unhealthily and continually making poor lifestyle choices ultimately leads to compromised eye health.
A CHANGE OF ENVIRONMENT
There’s a good reason grandma always turned on ‘industrial grade’ lighting when she read a book. Children and people in their our 20’s, need three times less ambient light than those in their 60’s to see comfortably. This is because the muscles which control the pupil become less responsive as we age, with less light reaching the retina. If you’re finding it hard to read, using brighter lights will place less strain on your eyes. For the same reasons, leaving a dark room like such as a cinema can be a dazzling experience on a bright day. Glasses with anti-reflective coating, or photochromic lenses can help reduce this problem.
Another condition of aging is that our bodies produce less tears and our eyes tend to dry out, which can leave us with an uncomfortable a burning sensation. Artificial tears, readily available from chemists, ease that discomfort and show how simple changes to your environment, will help protect your vision in the long term.
BEHAVIOUR PLAYS A PART
Some conditions of aging eyes can’t be readily fixed. Altering the way you behave can help reduce the symptoms, lessening the impact of the condition itself. Peripheral vision decreases with age and by the time we reach our 70’s or 80’s, it has decreased by some thirty degrees. To compensate for the reduced field of vision, be more aware of your surroundings and make a habit of actually turning your head instead of relying on your peripheral vision. This is particularly important for drivers.
Another common problem for aging eyes is decreased colour vision. Cells responsible for determining colour become less sensitive as the retina ages, and the contrast between colours becomes less noticeable. If discerning colour is important in your daily activity, you may need to learn to modify your behaviour accordingly. And while it is essential for your children have regular eye examinations from an optometrist, closely monitoring their, along with your own eye health is vital. Keep an eye out for ‘floaters’ in your vision. There’s a difference between vitreous detachment (usually harmless) and a detached retina (a serious problem) but both start with occasional spots, or floaters, appearing before your eyes. If they are detected in your child’s eyes or your own, let your specialist know just to be safe. For many, self-monitoring is a new behaviour, but an important one to pass on to your children.