As you age, you may notice vision changes, such as blurriness or difficulty differentiating between colors. You may also notice your eyes are frequently dry, or you may find it hard to see in dimly lit areas. These issues often have a simple solution, such as lubricating gel use or a prescription change for your glasses. However, you may also develop serious issues, such as vision loss from a stroke or retina damage from diabetes, as you get older. Review the suggestions below so you can maintain eye health well into your golden years and quickly identify serious symptoms if they occur.
Schedule Regular Eye Exams
Some seniors ignore eye issues, hoping they'll disappear on their own, while others have no clue that their eye health is declining until a doctor notifies them. That's why it's important to get your eyes checked by a professional at least once a year, more often if needed. Here are some signs that it's time to request an eye exam even if you haven't reached the 12-month mark since your last appointment:
- Headaches when reading or using smartphones, laptops or tablets
- Blurred vision that makes it difficult to complete daily tasks
- Eye injuries after a fall or bump
- Sharp, frequent eye pain
- Swollen or red eyes
During an exam, your doctor tries to pinpoint the cause of your symptoms. You may have neurological symptoms from a stroke or brain injury, or you may have symptoms from an aging-related condition, such as glaucoma or cataracts. More than 50% of adults experience cataracts at least once by age 80, but many find relief from surgery.
Keep Your Home Safe
Approximately half of eye injuries occur in your home. The bulk of injuries occur during home improvement projects from debris in the air, but you can also injure your eye after slipping or falling. The sharp edges of furniture can easily injure your sensitive eye area, and you may even end up with wood or a shard of glass embedded in your eye after a fall.
Improve eye safety by installing adjustable lights, removing clutter and adding home modifications, such as bars or ramps. Put gardening tools away immediately, and watch out for slick surfaces.
Learn About Medication Side Effects
Medication helps relieve aches and other ailments, but sometimes the side effects damage your vision. These effects are often temporary, but you should still be careful when blurred vision or dizziness strikes. If possible, take medications before bed so side effects have minimal effect on your daily activities. You can also ask your doctor if medications with fewer side effects are available.
Let your doctor know if symptoms become unbearable or if you notice major vision changes after taking medication.
Get Plenty of Sleep
During the day, your eyes capture an assortment of allergens and debris. This can make your eyes dry, itchy or inflamed. Luckily, you can lubricate your eyes and boost natural cleaning properties by getting plenty of sleep each night.
The amount of sleep each senior needs varies, but generally, older adults should shoot for at least 7 or 8 hours per night. Talk to your doctor if you struggle with insomnia or other issues that impact your sleep.
Implement Healthy Habits
Snacking on sugary treats may be enjoyable, but it doesn't do much for your eyes. Optimize eye health with nutrient-rich foods, including fish, fruits and vegetables. Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, contains omega-3s, which help strengthen your macula. This is the part of the eye that controls central vision.
Fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants and essential vitamins. Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants, and citrus fruits have plenty of inflammation-fighting vitamin C. Watch out for foods with high-saturated fat levels, as these can reduce blood flow and cause eye issues.
In addition to choosing nutritious foods, you can also protect eye health by wearing sunglasses when you're outside and exercising regularly. Sunglasses help block harmful UV rays, and exercise makes you less likely to develop some of the conditions that affect eye health, such as diabetes.
At Brightview Senior Living, we make it easy to stay healthy with fun activities and tasty meals. We even offer transportation for some outings and errands, so you don't have to worry about missing eye exams. Learn more about how our vibrant communities can enhance your life — or a loved one's — by scheduling a visit today.