Struggling to read small text? Or to find your way through the house in the dark?
Hopefully not. But one day, you might experience these and other normal age related vision changes.
Some vision changes are unavoidable with age. But with the right preventive measures, you can reduce their negative effects.
There’s a lot you can do to safeguard your vision in the years to come, from regular eye checkups to eating the right foods and taking nutritional supplements.
But before we look at how you can age-proof your vision, let’s understand how ageing changes your vision.
How Does Aging Change Your Vision?
Your eyes and vision change as you age. Most people begin to experience age related vision changes after 40. According to the American Optometric Association, normal age related vision changes you may experience range from difficulties focusing to seeing more glare.
Here are the normal ways in which age changes your vision.
- Makes it harder to focus on near objects – With age, the lens in the eye becomes less flexible. As a result, your eyes have difficulties focusing up close. You will notice this when reading or doing close work. The condition is called presbyopia and can be corrected with glasses. When not corrected, it may give you tired eyes or headaches.
- Reduces tear production – As we grow older, the tear glands produce fewer tears. Tears lubricate and protect the eyes and help provide clear sight. A deficient tear film leads to dry eyes, a condition that affects an estimated 4.88 million Americans aged 50 or older. Women experiencing hormone changes are especially prone to dry eye disease.
- Reduces the amount of light that enters the eye – Aging weakens the eye muscles and decreases the size of the pupil so that less light enters the eye. Aging may also decrease the number of rod cells in the retina, which enable low-light vision. This is why as we age, we need brighter lights indoors to read and see well.
- Changes color perception – Another consequence of aging on the eyes is the discoloration of the otherwise clear lens in the eye. Because of this, it can become difficult to differentiate between similar colors or shades, like dark blue and black.
- Causes more glare – Age related eye changes in the lens make light become more scattered instead of focusing on the retina. When this happens, you may notice more glare when driving.
Normal age related vision changes can be annoying. But you can correct them and make changes in your life to adapt to them, like installing brighter lights in your home.
Age-Related Eye Conditions
Ageing eyesight also brings with it a higher risk of age-related eye conditions and diseases. In their initial stages, they may be subtle enough not to cause any signs or symptoms. That’s why it’s important to see an eye doctor regularly for a comprehensive eye exam that can spot age related changes in the eye.
As you age, your risk of developing the following eye diseases increases:
- Cataracts – One of the most common age related visual changes is the clouding of the lens of the eye. It prevents light from reaching the retina at the back of the eye. Small cataracts don’t affect vision but large ones cause blurriness. Cataract surgery is a common and safe procedure. During it, the clouded lens is replaced with a clear plastic one.
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in the US. It occurs when cells in the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for the sharpest vision, become damaged. This results in distorted or blurred central vision. AMD in advanced stages causes partial, irreversible vision loss.
- Diabetic retinopathy – A complication of diabetes, it occurs when blood vessels in the retina begin to bleed. As the disease progresses, new blood vessels may grow and bleed into the center of the eye, leading to vision loss. The condition cannot be cured but it can be managed if caught early.
- Glaucoma – Refers to several eye diseases that occur when the pressure inside the eye increases beyond normal levels. This may damage the optic nerve, leading to permanent vision loss. Apart from age, risk factors include diabetes, heredity, and certain medications.
- Retinal detachment – Age also increases the risk that the inner and outer layers of the retina become detached. Symptoms include sudden spots or light flashes, wavy vision, and seeing a dark shadow. Retinal detachment is a medical emergency that requires surgery or laser treatment to salvage vision.
How to Age-Proof Your Vision
While some old age vision changes are unavoidable, there’s a lot you can do to safeguard your vision and keep your eyes healthy for many years to come. From getting comprehensive eye exams to taking an eye health supplement, here are the most important ways to prepare for age related visual changes.
#1 See Your Eye Doctor Every Year After 40
Eye diseases that come with age often have a subtle start. You may not become aware of them until they have already progressed. Catching them early makes them easier to treat and manage.
That’s why it’s wise to see your eye doctor every year for a dilated eye exam. This is especially important if you have diabetes or high blood pressure, smoke, or have eye diseases in the family.
During a dilated eye exam, your eye doctor will put drops into your eyes to widen your pupils. This enables the doctor to examine the inside of the eye for any abnormalities.
#2 Get Your Eyewear Prescription Checked Every Year
Do you wear glasses or contact lenses? Even small vision changes as you age can make your current pair of glasses less than ideal. As a result, you may have difficulties reading, doing close work, or driving. You may also be at a higher risk of falls and accidents.
What’s more, glasses that fit too tightly, or the wrong eyewear prescription, can cause dizziness and headaches.
#3 Protect Your Eyes from Sunlight
UV light from the sun damages the eyes. It’s one of the main causes of vision deterioration with age. It can cause cataracts, corneal damage, macular degeneration, and skin and eye cancer.
UV light can damage the eyes when reflected off snow or water. Simply being outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. can make your eyes vulnerable to UV light. This is true even on overcast or foggy days.
On sunny days, wear a pair of sunglasses that block at least 99% of UV radiation and a hat or cap. Ideally, choose a pair of glasses with large frames and side or wraparound protection.
#4 Prevent Eye Strain with the 20-20-20 Rule
Studies suggest that eye strain may contribute to dry eyes by changing normal blinking patterns. In the digital age, avoiding eye strain is challenging but not impossible. Even if you have to work several hours in front of a screen every day.
Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from any screen you are using. Look away at an object 20 feet away. Or simply close your eyes and count to 20.
#5 Keep Blood Sugar Levels and High Blood Pressure in Check
High blood pressure and high sugar levels spell trouble for your eyes. High blood sugar levels block the blood vessels that feed the retina and promote the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eyes.
High blood pressure can damage blood vessels in your eyes, lead to fluid buildup under the retina, and damage the optic nerve.
Both conditions are likely to damage the eyes as you age. That’s why it’s important to control them through a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.
#6 Don’t Smoke
Smoking is a major risk factor for eye diseases. If you smoke, you are twice as likely to develop AMD and up to three times more likely to develop cataracts compared to nonsmokers.
According to the New York State Department of Health, smoking also increases the chances that you may develop glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and dry eye syndrome.
Not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your eye health—at any age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide useful resources on how to quit smoking.
#7 Maintain a Healthy Weight
Overweight and obese people are more likely to develop cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Being overweight also increases the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, which are major risk factors for eye diseases.
According to research, some people carry genes that predispose them to put on weight. However, by exercising and eating fewer calories than you burn, you can shed extra pounds and control your weight. Which takes us to the next point.
Regular physical activity has a significant impact on eye health. Exercise can help prevent diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
In a 2020 animal study, researchers divided mice into two groups. One group had access to an exercise wheel while the other group did not. After four weeks, the researchers used laser on the mice to induce age-related vision loss. They found that physically active mice had up to 45% less eye damage than the other mice.
More studies are needed to understand how exercise protects the eye. But so far, it’s clear that regular exercise promotes overall eye health.
To enjoy the health benefits of exercise, you need to engage in 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week or around 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Think brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cardio workouts.
#9 Eat Healthy
The first step to eating healthy is to maintain a healthy body weight by avoiding surplus calories. You can use this calorie counter to figure out how many calories you need to eat every day. Next, you want to eat more of the foods proven to promote eye health.
- Carrots, sweet potatoes, and other orange-colored vegs have Vitamin A, an essential vitamin for eye health.
- Red bell peppers and tomatoes have vitamin C, an antioxidant that protects eye cells from free radicals resulting from oxidative damage.
- Citrus fruits, strawberries, and peaches are also good sources of vitamin C.
- Avocados and almonds are rich in vitamin E, which helps support the health of cellular structures, including those in the eye.
- Spinach, kale, collards, turnip greens, and other leafy greens contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that occur naturally in the macula, the part of the retina responsible for the sharpest vision.
- Beans including kidney beans, lima beans, and black-eyed peas have zinc that helps keep the retina healthy.
- Salmon, sardines, tuna, and other cold-water fish have omega-3 fatty acids that may reduce the risk of eye disease. Omega-3s also support the proper functioning of the tear glands, working as a good defense against dry eye disease.
- Blueberries and goji berries have powerful antioxidants that protect your eyes against oxidative damage.
What about the foods you should avoid? Simple carbs, processed foods, excess sugar and salt, and unhealthy oils can increase the risk of eye diseases and other diseases that may affect the eyes. Look after your eyes by skipping:
- White bread, pasta, and foods made with white flour
- Fried and deep-fried foods
- Processed meats and other highly processed foods
- Sugary drinks
- Salty foods
- Cooking oils rich in linoleic acids, such as oils from sunflower, corn, safflower, or soybean
- Margarine and other foods with trans fats
#10 Take an Eye Health Supplement
Another way to age-proof your vision is to take a natural eye health supplement like SightC. SightC brings together antioxidants and phytonutrients from goji berries, turmeric, hawthorn, Chinese yams, and other plants.
The fruits, herbs, and roots in SightC have been used for centuries for holistic eye care in Chinese medicine. SightC is made from 100% natural ingredients and is vegan and sugar-free. It’s also suitable for gluten-free diets.
It’s rich in lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, key antioxidants that your eyes need to age well. SightC nourishes and soothes your eyes, helping with dry eyes that you may develop with age as your tear glands produce fewer tears.
Our customers find SightC a good alternative to eye drops:
“I have had increasing eye dryness the older I get. I tried this product as a last resort since even eye drops were not working for me. I started seeing results within a month and a half. Eye soreness improved and I no longer have itchy and gritty eyes. This is such a relief! Great product." – Elsie Garcia
SightC can also provide nutritional support for presbyopia, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other diseases that occur with age.
Offer your eyes the care that they need to age well. Protect your eyes with SightC.