While vision issues can happen at any age, getting older does come with its own eye and vision risks. The good news is that you can preserve your vision and keep your eyes healthy throughout your senior years.
At Wolchok Eye Associates in Jacksonville, Florida, ophthalmologist Stephen Wolchok, MD, provides comprehensive eye care and vision health services for patients of all ages, including treatments and evaluations focused on the problems confronting seniors.
Here are three things he says you should know to enjoy a lifetime of optimal eye health.
Your eyes need sun protection
Florida is known as the Sunshine State for good reason — there’s plenty of sun. And that means you need to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.
UV rays can damage different parts of your eyes, including your corneas, your lenses, and the light-sensitive retinas at the back of your eyes.
Plus, sun exposure can contribute to serious eye problems, like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), two serious vision problems that almost exclusively affect seniors.
Healthy food choices are important
Like every other part of your body, your eyes need a steady flow of nutrients to stay healthy (and help prevent some vision issues). To make sure your diet is full of eye-healthy choices, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says you should focus on these nutrients.
There’s a reason carrots are traditionally associated with good vision: They’re rich in vitamin A, which supports retina health and helps prevent dry eye disease. Not a fan of carrots? Sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and other orange vegetables and fruits contain plenty of vitamin A, too.
Found in citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, and red bell peppers, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which means it fights a lot of harmful environmental factors that can affect eye health.
Antioxidants are especially important for seniors, since these nutrients may delay or even prevent AMD and cataracts.
Vitamin E is another antioxidant important for eye health, repairing damaged cells that play a role in vision.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Abundant in oily fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines, these fatty acids may help prevent dry eye and eye problems more common during the senior years.
Lutein and zeaxanthin
Leafy greens like dark-green lettuce, collards, kale, and spinach are good sources of these nutrients, both of which protect the central part of the retina called the macula (the part affected by AMD).
Annual eye exams are a must
It’s not surprising that your eyes change a lot during childhood, a period of rapid growth and development. But what you may not know is that your eyes and your vision can change a lot during your senior years, too.
Some eye diseases and vision problems become more common with age, such as:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Presbyopia (trouble focusing on near objects)
- Problems seeing at night
If you have annual eye exams, Dr. Wolchok is better able to catch problems early when they’re more treatable.
Routine eye exams benefit your overall health, too. With regular, dilated eye exams, Dr. Wolchok may be able to see very early signs of serious diseases like:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Multiple sclerosis
- Lyme disease
Most eye exams take a half hour to a couple of hours (including the time needed to dilate your pupils) — a small investment considering the major benefits these exams provide.
Good vision is essential at every age. Taking steps to prevent age-related vision issues is a wise investment in your health, your lifestyle, and your quality of life.
To schedule an eye exam at our Jacksonville, Florida, office or to learn what more you can do to keep your eyes healthy and strong, call 904-739-0606 or book an appointment online with Wolchok Eye Associates today.