It's no secret that as we age, we have an increased risk of eye problems that can affect our lifestyle and independence. While we all lose some vision as we get older, glaucoma, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy are among the most common eye disorders among older adults.
Mark Kuperwaser, M.D., chief ophthalmologist at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, suggest the following tips for maintaining eye health as you age:
- At age 40, have a full screening eye exam that includes an assessment of vision in each eye, screening for glaucoma, and dilation of the eyes to check for retinal damage.
- Depending on the findings of your initial screening, have an annual screening for glaucoma or other eye diseases.
- Eat a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and take a multivitamin that contains vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, and zinc to help prevent the development or progression of macular degeneration, the leading cause of uncorrectable vision loss among seniors.
- Protect your eyes from the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays by wearing UV-rated sunglasses.
- Have your eyes checked annually if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, a family history of retinal problems, or have suffered eye trauma, as these all increase your risk for eye disease.
- Before going to sleep at night, apply a hot-water compress to the eyes for five minutes to flush out bacterial waste and congealed eye secretions that can cause eye surface disease.
In addition, says Dr. Kuperwaser, you should see an eye specialist anytime you notice visual disturbances, redness in one or both eyes, swelling or pain in the eyes, or worsening vision.