As we age, we become obsessed with preserving our young bodies. The truth is, no matter how many skin creams or hair growth supplements we use, age will eventually catch up.
The only difference is your wallet may be a little lighter than you’d like. Plus, it’s often hard to find the motivation to keep up with a good diet and exercise regimen.
One thing, however, that is worth preserving and will cost you no extra money is your eyesight. So what if our skin begins to sag a little or our hair starts to thin? Neither of those problems affect our overall well-being.
Diminished eyesight in old age does. When your eyesight goes, so does your independence, your ability to work; it inhibits your ability to learn and your mental health may even suffer. There are a million reasons why you should work towards preserving your eyes in old age.
Luckily, there are two easy ways to do this: through diet and exercise.
Exercise for Healthy Eyes
Exercising is not just about losing weight or toning your muscles. Though it has numerous positives effects on the body, exercising can also help to preserve your vision, especially in old age.
Your eyes in old age need all the help they can get. They aren’t as resilient as they once were, they won’t recover as quickly from infections and they won’t hold off diseases as well as they used to. Exercise can in fact hold off diseases and keep your eyes from falling prey to age-related diseases.
How It Works
Exercising can both directly prevent disease in the eye and indirectly. When you exercise, you’re working towards keeping the whole body healthy. That means diseases like obesity and type-2 diabetes (which can cause eye diseases) are prevented as well.
Many age-related diseases that develop in the eye such as glaucoma, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are more prevalent in people who aren’t active.
Best Exercises to Do
Just as no exercise works the same group of muscles, no exercise affects the eye the same. Some are better than others for preventing cataracts, while others will likely reduce your risk of glaucoma.
For glaucoma, cardio is your best option. Now, we’re not suggesting you start training for a Marathon, but some light cardio, three times a week is enough to ward off this much-hated disease.
A walk in the park, a jog on the treadmill and some light cycling can help to reduce intraocular pressure. When the pressure in the eye becomes too much (glaucoma), nerves and cells in the eye start to die. If you are at risk for glaucoma, be careful with strenuous exercise like weight lifting as activities such as this may increase your intraocular pressure.
For cataracts and AMD, studies found that those who were active more than three times a week, doing a mix of cardio and strength training were less likely to develop either disease.
For cataracts and AMD, some good exercises include aerobics, jogging, walking, light weight lifting and modified Pilates for older adults.
A Healthy Diet for Healthy Eyes
There is a hotly debated statistic that losing weight and being healthy is 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise. The accuracy of this stat is often criticized by fitness experts, but the underlining point is what is important.
Diet and exercise work hand in hand. If you’re exercising every day, but then indulge in an extra-large pizza on the regular, you aren’t making healthy choices. In fact, when you eat unhealthy foods, you’re undoing all the exercise you just did.
Diet in our old age becomes especially important. Just like our eyes, our bodies don’t bounce back from greasy foods like they used to. Unhealthy foods really take a toll on you.
If your body isn’t healthy, then your eyes aren’t healthy because they are also not getting the vitamins and nutrients they need. When your eyes have the proper vitamins and nutrients, they will stay younger for longer and you’ll greatly reduce your risk of developing eye diseases.
Diet and Exercise for Diabetes
Eating a diet to help regulate your diabetes is incredibly important. Regulating your blood sugar levels will prevent diabetic retinopathy in the eye. It’s important to eat foods that won’t affect your blood sugar and cause crazy spikes.
When this happens, it can lead to diabetic retinopathy. This disease is preventable through controlling your diabetes. When your diabetes gets out of control, the blood vessels in your eyes begin to grow abnormally and eventually they leak into the retina and cause spotting in your vision.
If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness and a detached retina.
What to Eat
When preserving your eyes in old age you need to eat natural, whole foods. That means no more processed foods, foods with added sugars or greasy, sloppy messes of food like burgers and chili cheese fries.
What you’ll want to eat instead is lots of vegetables and fruit with dark pigmentations. These fruits and veggies are jam-packed with nutrients that your eyes absolutely need like beta carotene, carotenoids, vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin and much more.
Some of these foods include:
A good rule of thumb to follow is the brighter the produce, the more nutrients it has!
Some other great foods that provide your eyes with necessary nutrients like zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and protein are the following:
Oily fish (salmon, trout, etc.)
Staying healthy and in good shape in your old age is more than just about preserving your body. It also works to keep your vision stronger and your eyesight sharper for longer. Get moving today with a leisurely walk and treat yourself to some yummy fresh fruits!
This post originally appeared on Rebuild Your Vision.