Submitted by Alicia DeRuscio, B.S.
When you think of good health, you probably picture someone free of illness or chronic conditions. What about someone with good eye health? Your eyes are an important part of your body – they help you see, connect with, and experience the world around you.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), your eyes experience many changes as you age. For example, some of the cells in your eyes, called rod cells, are more likely to break down over time. These cells are responsible for helping your eyes focus and adjust, and are affected by certain lifestyle factors including smoking or excessive sun exposure. As rod cells break down, you may experience trouble with your vision.
The AAO lists several common problems that older adults experience with age:
- A gradual loss in ability to see things up close, known as presbyopia.
- Difficulty adjusting or focusing eyes when moving from a poor-lit area to a well-lit area, or vice versa.
- Difficulty adjusting to light or dark when driving, especially in the rain.
- Contrast sensitivity, or trouble separating an image from its background with a similar color or tone.
Aging also makes you more likely to develop eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or cataracts. Many eye diseases do not have any signs or symptoms, so it’s important to keep your eyes healthy and get them checked regularly.
In order to maintain good eye health, the National Eye Institute (NIH) recommends:
- Getting a dilated eye exam every year to check for eye diseases.
- Wearing sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation.
- Wearing protective eyewear such as goggles or safety glasses when playing sports or performing manual labor.
- Giving your eyes a rest every 20 minutes when looking at a computer or TV screen.
- Washing your hands before putting in or taking out contacts.
- Disinfecting contact lenses and replacing them regularly
As with any health-related disease, it’s also important to maintain good physical health in order to protect your eyes. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits like eating a nutritious diet, getting adequate sleep, quitting smoking and getting regular physical activity can decrease the risk of developing eye diseases.
Certain foods, like spinach, kale, tuna, halibut and salmon are beneficial to eye health. Sleeping also promotes eye health by providing continuous lubrication, helping eyes to rid themselves of dust or other irritants that may have built up during the day.
While some changes in vision naturally occur because of age, others do not. Low vision, or vision loss that makes daily activities difficult, is usually the result of an eye disease. Low vision can include both losses of central and side vision, as well as blurred or hazy vision. Common symptoms include difficulty reading, driving, shopping or recognizing faces.
If you experience low vision or have trouble with any of these tasks, be sure to contact your eye doctor. Scheduling a visit with an eye doctor will help determine if you have an eye condition and provide you with resources to aid with low vision.
For more information on healthy lifestyles, contact HealthLink Littauer at 518-736-1120. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.