By: Dr. David Loewy
While aging is a fact of life that one cannot escape, there are specific measures that can be taken to ensure the best possible vision as you age. The following lifestyle modifications can help delay or prevent certain eye diseases.
Regular Eye Examinations
One of the most important things you can do is schedule yearly eye examinations. During a dilated eye exam, your eye doctor carefully checks for eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Early detection and treatment of these diseases may help prevent vision loss. Also, during an eye exam, manifestations of systemic diseases such as high blood pressure and some types of cancer can be detected.
Eating a healthy diet may help prevent certain eye diseases. Choose dark green and brightly colored fruits and vegetables to obtain the most antioxidants. Omega-3 fatty acids may also help protect your eyes against diseases such as dryness and macular degeneration. Omega-3s can be found in cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel. A good quality fish oil supplement or a vegetarian supplement containing black currant seed oil or flaxseed oil may be a helpful addition to your diet.
Smoking can promote eye disease by damaging blood vessels and reducing the blood flow to the eyes and increasing the amount of toxins your eyes absorb. This elevates the risk for diabetic and hypertensive retinopathy, as well as macular degeneration.
Tobacco smoke also increases aging changes to the skin around your eyes and contributes to Dry Eye Disease symptoms. If you smoke, ask your doctor about a program to help you quit. Refraining from tobacco products is one of the most important modifiable ways to decrease your risk of developing a multitude of diseases.
You can also help protect your eyes by avoiding prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays and high-energy blue light. Wear good quality UV-blocking sunglasses while outdoors. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat can add extra protection. New lens coatings are available that reduce the amount of high-energy blue light emitted from electronic devices. Studies have not yet conclusively shown harm from this blue light, but the lens coatings’ low cost could be a prudent investment.
Exercise and Weight Control
These are the other major modifiable lifestyle choices that can decrease your risk of developing disease.
Maintaining a healthy diet and limiting caloric intake help decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. Regular exercise, in addition, helps to control weight and can decrease the chance of high blood pressure, heart and lung disease, and others. Being in general good health also helps decrease many eye diseases.
Being proactive and modifying risk factors and behaviors that we have control over can help maintain our health and vision into our golden years and help keep those years more enjoyable.
Our doctors at Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida offer personalized eye care of the highest quality. To schedule an appointment or learn more about our services, please visit our website, EYESFL.com, or call us at 800-282-3937.
This column is sponsored by Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFHN or its advertisers.
David Loewy, M.D., is a board-certified ophthalmologist who performs Cataract Surgeries, LASIK, and Laser Surgeries and sees patients at the Haines City and Winter Haven locations for Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida.