Society has us believing that getting older is something to fear. Our hair will turn gray or fall out, our joints will stiffen, our backs will ache, and worst of all, our eyesight will fade. But this doesn’t have to be the case, especially for our eyes. We hit the gym to take care of our bodies; why not do the equivalent for our eyes?
Around the age of 40, presbyopia and other age-related vision problems begin to take their toll. But, aging vision does not have to be something to fear. There are ways to strengthen the eyes and prevent age-related vision impairments even if you have already reached middle age. It is never too late to care for your eyes and vision. It just takes a little extra time and dedication. With these tips, you’ll have your eyes feeling like they’re 20 again.
1. Know Your Family Medical History
Knowing your family medical history is crucial to eye health, the same way you would need to know about relatives with heart disease or breast cancer. For example, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a vision impairment that runs in families.
Knowing your family history allows you to take steps towards preventing certain vision impairments that may be in your genes. However, just because a relative may have a certain eyesight disorder, does not mean that you are certain to suffer the same fate. But knowing that it runs in your family can help reduce your risk of getting diseases that can be prevented.
The best way to acquire these medical histories is to talk to family members about it, especially your parents and grandparents if possible. If not your grandparents, your parents are likely to have information regarding your family’s health.
2. Change Your Diet
A change in diet is probably the easiest way to protect your vision throughout middle age. Unlike most diet changes that require a full one-eighty in terms of what you eat, changing your diet for the benefit of your eyes doesn’t mean you need to cut out your favorite foods. In fact, it’s encouraged to branch out and vary your foods as much as possible!
Certain vitamins are needed for your eyes to work at full force. Some of the best vitamins are Vitamin A, C, E and zinc, among many more. For a more comprehensive list, head on over to our Eye Vitamins for information about each vitamin and how one vitamin supplement can help reach your daily required intake of each!
The best foods to eat are highly pigmented fruits and veggies, such as carrots, dark leafy greens, citrus fruit, and fresh berries. These foods don’t need to be eaten in big quantities either to be fully effective. For example, half a cup of raw spinach contributes to 56 percent of your daily required intake of Vitamin A!
3. Wear Proper Sunglasses
You may be tempted to reach for those discount sunglasses that look cool, but ultimately don’t do the thing they’re actually supposed to do: Protect your eyes from the sun. Springing for a slightly more expensive pair of sunglasses that offer UV and/or UVA protection is worth the money. Often you don’t need to compromise looks for quality as many sunglasses with UV protection are very stylish.
You may also want to consider the size of the sunglasses. Though you may think your face is not the “right shape” for oversized Hollywood celebrity sunglasses, you’ll get the best protection out of them as they cover more of the face. This type of protection is essential to those nearing or already in middle age as the eyes don’t bounce back from sunburn the way younger eyes do.
4. Stay Hydrated
One of the most common symptoms of aging eyes is dryness. It is important to keep hydrated (eight glasses of water a day is the general recommendation). Drinking water is the best way to keep the eyes hydrated. Be sure to get the required amount per day to stay healthy.
Sometimes our eyes are just too dry and irritated and need instant relief. In that case, use eye drops but don’t overdo it. Consult your doctor to find the best eye drops for your eyes. It is not recommended to use eye drops all the time, so really only use them as needed.
5. Stay Healthy
Your overall health affects your eye health. For example, smokers often come down with vision impairments as a result of smoking. Keeping away from cigarettes is a good way to protect your eyes and improve your health in general. High blood pressure and cholesterol are also factors that may play into how your eyes age. Be sure to have them under control for a healthy lifestyle.
6. Visit Your Doctor
Your eyes need a doctor’s attention just as much as any other part of your body. Your optometrist can detect early signs of eye diseases and disorders and can help you to take the right steps to prevent them. It is recommended to visit your eye doctor at least once a year, or more if you have an existing eye condition.
This post originally appeared on American Academy of Ophthalmology