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Eye Health Habits for Seniors

Getting older comes with its charms, but the physical downsides unfortunately start mounting up as you pass middle age. Knees get creaky, muscles start to lose their tone, balance goes out the window and eyesight loses its sharpness.

Eating right and staying consistent with exercise can help alleviate some of the major pains of growing older, but keeping your eyes as healthy as they can be requires some specific habits.

The most important way to keep your vision strong is to make sure you get an annual comprehensive eye exam, since many diseases related to the eye show little to no symptoms until the condition becomes advanced.

Beyond the eye exam, there are a few more habits you should pick up to keep your eyes healthy as you get older, and one of them is getting plenty of consistent exercise. Being active can not only help you ward off a whole host of diseases and chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, but it can also protect against major eye ailments like age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity like brisk walking, or 75 minutes of a higher intensity cardio workout like running or rowing, plus at least two days a week of hitting the weights. Exercise will improve blood circulation, which can bolster eye health.

Nutrition is the next best way to keep your peepers strong throughout your life. Get plenty of leafy greens like spinach and kale, which are filled with eye-strengthening antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, and make sure your diet is chock-full of foods that feature vitamin C, like grapefruit, Brussels sprouts, and green peppers. Vitamin E is another important nutrient for eye health and is one we don’t often get enough of. Try putting sunflower seeds or other nuts like almonds or pecans on salads or into other dishes to bump up your consumption of this necessary vitamin.

Another important way to preserve clear vision is to regularly step away from the omnipresent glowing screens in our increasingly digital life. Reduce eye strain by making sure the size of the text on your screen is at least three times bigger than the smallest text you can read from your regular sitting position and by taking regular eye breaks. Try looking away from the screen every 20 minutes and focusing on an object about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

We can do many things to stave off the inevitable, but our vision will eventually decline as we age and after about age 40, we all start to lose our ability to focus on objects close to us. This is called presbyopia and over a billion people in the world have it, the World Health Organization reports. You’ll notice it creeping up on you when you find that you have to hold things you are trying to read, like menus and books, at arm’s length. One of the best ways to fix this is by getting fitted for bifocal lenses or newer progressive lenses like Varilux lenses, which can make seeing clearly again more comfortable and smooth out the abrupt transition that traditional bifocals can give you.

Despite the fact that our eyesight will fade as we get older, you can still keep your vision strong and healthy for a long time by following our simple tips. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and annual exams are all healthy eye habits we should try to get into as we age.