Good eye care can also protect your independence

Good eye care can also protect your independence

Just about every article on healthy aging will remind you to eat better, exercise more, get plenty of rest, and make sure you’re getting routine checkups with your dentist and doctor. While I am passionate about all those things, this time I’m focusing on taking care of your eyes.

It’s something I have personal interest in.

As I get older, I’m noticing that my eyes are changing. And, I’m paying more attention to keeping them healthy. Eyecare may also need some seasonal adjustments. Fall’s dry air can bother eyes. So can all those hours spent shopping online.

Think about how many times you depend on your eyes every day. From reading mail and paying bills to driving, your vision is massively important for your independence as you get older. Make sure you’re doing all you can for your eyes.

Here are some of my favorite tips:

  • Tell your eyecare professional if family members have been diagnosed with an eye disease or condition. Some conditions are hereditary, which may put you at higher risk for developing them. Taking appropriate precautions, and catching symptoms early, may help ultimately help preserve your vision.
  • Always be ready to soothe dry eyes. Dry, cold air can leave your eyes feeling dry and uncomfortable. A new eye mist technology may forever change how you manage dry eyes. I love this stuff. I take it with me everywhere. It makes such a difference. There’s no dripping, no mess, and ladies, it won’t smudge your makeup.
  • Look away from the screen every 20 minutes. We don’t blink as often when we’re staring at the computer. If you’re not protecting your eyes, you may be increasing your risk for digital eye strain and dry eyes. Also, every 20 minutes, it’s smart to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Another option is to wear special computer glasses that have a blue light filter in the lenses. (A third option is to just cut your screen time!).
  • Use protective eyewear when doing yard work. Blowing or raking leaves can send small pieces of plant matter flying into your eyes. Because the lenses of most protective eyewear are made of strong polycarbonate, they may do a better job of protecting your eyes from flying debris than regular sunglasses or prescription glasses.
  • Ladies, smell your eye makeup. Experts recommend tossing your mascara, shadows and eye liners because they harbor germs that may cause eye infections. If you don’t want to go to the expense of replacing makeup that frequently, smell it. If it’s stinky, it’s not worth the risk.
  • Keep rocking your sunglasses all year long. The sun’s rays can still damage your eyes even on cloudy, overcast days. Make sure your sunglasses block 90 to 100 percent of all UVA/UVB radiation.
  • Eat to protect your sight. Several nutrients are known to support eye health and may even help protect eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration. These include beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc; and vitamins A, C, D and E. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is good for your eyes as well as your overall health. That means eating plenty of dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, berries, nuts and seeds, brown rice, citrus fruits, and melons. Eye-friendly proteins include shrimp, crab, eggs, and cold-water fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel.

You can continue to enjoy your independence as you age. When it comes to your eyes, it may just require making some adjustments here and there.

Jonny Bowden, who has degrees in holistic nutrition and psychology, writes on subjects related to weight loss, nutrition and health. His articles have appeared in print or online in the New York Times and magazines, including People and O the Oprah Magazine.