Eye Care – Protecting Your Vision as You Age

As we get older, our eyesight often declines. Nearly 2 million people in the UK have some form of vision impairment, with 360,000 registered as legally blind or partially sighted. While some vision loss is inevitable with age, there are steps you can take to protect your eyes and maintain healthy vision for as long as possible.

Get Regular Eye Exams

Regular comprehensive eye exams are crucial for preserving good vision and identifying any issues early, when they’re most treatable. An exam can detect conditions like glaucoma and cataracts. It can also spot general health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure.

“Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, with an estimated 2% of the UK population over 40 having the disease.”

In addition to screening for diseases, an eye exam will determine if you need glasses or contacts, or if a current prescription needs to be updated. Proper prescription eyewear is vital for clear sight and for safety when doing tasks like driving.

People over 60 can get free NHS eye tests whenever needed. Home exams are also an option for those with limited mobility, as seen in this video:

Wear Sunglasses Outdoors

Exposure to ultraviolet light can contribute to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Wraparound style sunglasses with UV protection help shield eyes from sun damage. Look for the CE safety mark and EN 1836:2005 standard to ensure adequate UV ray blocking. Those requiring prescription lenses can ask their optometrist about prescription sunwear.

Prioritise Sleep

While we sleep, eyes continuously self-lubricate and clear away irritants. Insufficient rest can leave eyes dry, red, swollen, blurry, and overly light-sensitive. Tips for better sleep include:

  • Avoiding caffeine and sugar before bed
  • No screens for 2 hours pre-bedtime
  • Sticking to a regular sleep/wake schedule
  • Having a quality, comfortable mattress

Improve Home Lighting

Our eyes require 3 times more light at age 60 versus age 20. Boost indoor illumination with ample natural daylight and bright, yet glare-free, bulb lighting. Well-lit staircases can prevent falls. For reading and tasks requiring visual focus, use direct lamp lighting without reflective glare shining in eyes.

Quit Smoking

Smoking raises the risk of two major age-related eye diseases:

  • Macular degeneration – 4 times higher risk versus never smokers
  • Cataracts – 2 times higher risk

Talk to your doctor about NHS smoking cessation services like nicotine replacement products, support groups, and helplines. Kicking the habit improves longevity and quality of life.

Eat Eye-Healthy Foods

Key nutrients for eye health include:

  • Vitamin C – Fruits and vegetables like citrus, strawberries, peppers
  • Vitamin A – Carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin
  • Zinc and omega-3 fatty acids – Seafood like salmon and oysters
  • Antioxidants – Leafy greens like spinach and kale

A balanced, Mediterranean-style diet full of colourful plant foods may help prevent vision loss.

Give Eyes Frequent Breaks

If you stare at screens all day, regular short breaks can ease eye strain. Headache and squinting can signal screen time has been too long. Speak to your employer about occupational eye exams and potential prescription glasses suited for computer work.

Protecting vision takes awareness and proactive steps. But the payoff is clear sight and independence into the later years. Schedule an eye exam to benchmark current vision health. Then implement lifestyle habits – like proper eyewear, nutrition, and lighting – to support vision for the long run.

Photo “Eyes” by Anthony Cunningham for Zoom Health

Zoom Health is a leading UK supplier of Home Health Tests and Earplugs

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