Eye problems affect people of different age groups but mostly affect older adults. The rate of risk of eye problems increases once a person is over 70 years of age. Eye problems that occur or develop due to old age are considered to be normal.
It is important to have regular eye check-ups to be on the lookout for some serious sight-threatening conditions that are not caused by old age. Old age does not increase the risk for some of these conditions.
The risk for eye problems increases with age because diseases like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes that are common among the elderly also increase the risk for eye problems.
Poor eyesight among the elderly may sometimes cause anxiety and depression. Elderly people with eyesight problems are in constant fear of failing. Changes in eyesight may also lead to loss of balance, unnecessary changes in gait, and restricted ability to move around. Remember, as people age, they need to stay active to maintain a healthy and quality life. Eyesight problems make this impossible which is why it can lead to depression and anxiety.
On the brighter side though, most eyesight problems can be easily avoided by simply maintaining good nutrition, exercising regularly, getting eye vitamins or food supplements, and having regular eye check-ups. Prevention is the best way of keeping eye problems at bay.
The elderly are a special part of any society. They are considered a sense of great pride and wisdom. They are an indication of the success of various health programs that aim at illustrating that people can live longer than ever before.
To promote eye health and prevent eyesight problems in older age, it is important to promote eye health in the long-term starting as early as possible. Good eye health among older adults can also be achieved by ensuring they have access to good eye care services.
Taking care of the eyes of older adults is important because eyesight problems can develop at any age or stage of life. Moreover, eyesight problems are more common in seniors hence the need to take care of their eyes.
Eye diseases that are particularly common in the elderly include glaucoma, cataract, and age-related macular degeneration. The risk of eye problems among the elderly is further compounded by diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Eye-sight problems can lead to restricted mobility at a time when the elderly need to be active to maintain quality of life and healthy life.
The following can help maintain good vision even as people grow old:
The importance of the annual eye check-up with an ophthalmologist cannot be underestimated. Annual eye check-ups are most important for older adults. Regular eye check-ups with an ophthalmologist help identify eye diseases like glaucoma, cataract, and AMD in the initial stages. Eye check-ups can provide insight into conditions like hypertension and diabetes.
Once a person is 60 years old, they will 3 times the amount of light they needed at 20 years to be able to see well. Older people or their love can help them increase daylight at home by simply pulling back the curtains and ensuring the windows are clean. This allows light to get in easily.
In addition, it is necessary to consider good electric lighting too. This is important especially at the bottom and at the top of the stairs to help them see the stairs clearly to avoid falling and accidents that may injure their eyes and bodies.
Older adults who need to read or do close work should use a direct light from a flexible table lamp. The lamp should be positioned in a manner that the light is not reflected by the page to cause glare.
Diseases like diabetes, atherosclerosis, and hypertension that are common in the elderly are linked to cardiovascular disorders. In addition, these conditions can cause exudations, blockage of blood vessels in the eyes, and hemorrhages. These adverse changes in blood vessels in the eyes may increase the risk of eyesight problems and loss of vision.
Most older adults need prescription glasses for near and distance. They should always wear their prescription glasses to have a better vision so that they can reduce the risk of falling and getting into accidents.
For older patients whose eyesight does not improve even with surgical interventions and medical interventions; the ophthalmologist needs to prescribe low vision aids. These will help them function independently and reduce their dependency on others.
It is very important to protect the eyes from ultraviolet light. People can wear hats with a brim, use a dupatta or scarf to protect their eyes. Additionally, wearing prescription glasses and sunglasses with a UV-protecting coat can also protect the eyes from ultraviolet light.
A healthy lifestyle includes a healthy diet and physical exercise. A healthy diet has lots of whole grains, vegetables, leafy greens, and fruits. These foods contain all the essential nutrients for the entire body including the eyes.
Physical exercises are important for maintaining overall physical health. They also help keep at bay most diseases. Just like the rest of the body, our eyes need proper oxygen intake and blood circulation. Exercising regularly can guarantee both.
It has been proven that smoking is very harmful to the body. In addition, smoking has been linked to an increased risk for cataracts which is one of the common eye diseases among the elderly. The risk for macular degeneration is also higher for people who smoke. The risk for AMD is even higher for people who smoke and are over 80 years.
It is important to wear prescription glasses at all times to avoid falling. When necessary. they should also wear protective eyewear such as face shields and sun goggles. It is important to take extreme caution to avoid falling which could injure the eyes.
Symptoms of eye problems that are considered normal include;
Dry eyes could also be a symptom of greater health problems like autoimmune diseases and diabetes. Doctors may sometimes prescribe artificial tears. However, artificial tears only offer temporary relief and may even worsen the problem. Homeopathic eye drops are more helpful.
Farsightedness on the other hand is caused by environmental and inherited influences on the shape of the eyeball. For this condition, doctors may recommend surgery or glasses. Others recommend lifestyle changes, nutrition changes, and visual therapy.
Signs of cataracts include over sensitivity to light, hazy and blurry vision that may get worse. Causes of cataracts include food sensitivities, eye harming side effects of some prescribed medications, the buildup of free radicals in the metabolism, chronic stress and pain on the neck or back, poor digestion, and smoking.
Cataracts can also be caused as a result of diseases like diabetes or other eye surgeries.
Symptoms of glaucoma are usually very few until vision is diminished. Treatments for glaucoma are drastic. However, research shows that vigorous exercises can help reduce Intraocular pressure that is linked to glaucoma.
Wet macular degeneration is caused when the body tries to make up for the lack of nutrients by building extra blood vessels under the retina. However, these new blood vessels leak fluid that permanently damages the cells in the retina.
AMD is caused by lifestyle and nutritional factors.
Blueberries, pecans, and artichokes are some of the foods that have been shown to slow down and reverse macular degeneration. Antioxidants such as zeaxanthin, carotenoids astaxanthin, and lutein. All these are recommended for elderly people because they can help maintain and improve eyesight.
Enzymes such as glutathione, alpha lipoic, CoQ10, and superoxide dismutase support antioxidant functioning. Zeaxanthin and carotenoids are found in fruits and vegetables. They are also found in the macula of the human eye. In the eye, they reduce the risk of damage that is brought by light-induced oxidation.
This oxidation damage can lead to glaucoma and macular degeneration. Therefore, antioxidants and enzymes that support antioxidant functioning are very important in the diet of elderly people. Foods that contain a lot of these nutrients include turnip greens, spinach and kale, and collards.
A good example of a phytonutrient antioxidant is green tea. Green tea catechins are very helpful in the elderly. Elderly women are at risk for several conditions that can be helped with green tea catechins.
In addition to supporting eye health, when modified with estrogen metabolism, green tea reduces the risk for low bone density, breast cancer, and osteopenia. Green tea helps with the regulation of glucose, overactive bladder, controlling cholesterol levels, and relieving symptoms of menopause. Green tea should be included in the morning and evening formula in combination with other herbs.
There is ongoing research on amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and antioxidants to establish their role in natural eye care and in protecting a person’s vision. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce the risk of macular degeneration and dry eyes.
Tuna, sardines, herring, and salmon are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids. They can also be found in flaxseed oil, dark green leafy vegetables, flaxseeds, and walnuts although in a lesser amount.
Vitamin A helps the surface of the eye to be an effective barrier to viruses and bacteria. It plays a key role in immune function. Vitamin A may also help slow down the progression of dry macular degeneration. Cantaloupe, carrots, and sweet potatoes are good sources of Vitamin A.
Vitamin C is very useful in eye care for the elderly because it helps in the formation of collagen that is found in the corner of the eye. Studies suggest that Vitamin C can help in preventing the formation of cataracts. It can also help prevent loss of vision that is caused by macular degeneration. Bell peppers and citrus fruits are good sources of Vitamin C.
Another important nutrient is Vitamin D. It is a membrane antioxidant that protects membranes from being oxidized. The human body creates Vitamin D from sun exposure. People who live in northern climates or those who rarely spend time outside might have a Vitamin D deficiency.
Milk is Vitamin D fortified and helps in the absorption of calcium. It is important to consume milk that is fortified with Vitamin D3. Older adults require 4 times the amount of sunshine to get an equal amount of Vitamin D as someone who is 20 years old. The normal range for vitamin D levels that are accepted is 20 – 50 nanograms per milliliter.
Another important nutrient is Vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect cells found in the eyes and the whole body. Vitamin E protects these cells from damage that may be caused by byproducts of metabolism. Sources of Vitamin E include sunflower seeds, wheat germ, hazelnuts, and almonds.
Zinc protects against night blindness and macular degeneration. It helps with the absorption of Vitamin A and assists enzymes to fight free radicals. Sources of zinc include seafood, wheat germ, black-eyed beans, and oysters.
Magnesium helps in the relaxation of muscles that control the circulation of the vitreous gel in the eye. Sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, almonds, and wheat germ. Selenium helps in the absorption of Vitamin E. Sources of selenium are wheat germ and seafood.
Last but not least, chromium is a trace element that is linked to blood circulation, blood sugar regulation, and fat metabolism. Chromium is found in potato skins, brewer’s yeast, and eggs.
Older people who are at risk of eyesight problems are those who take medications that deplete important nutrients, those whose digestion is compromised, and those who have difficulty accessing an adequate supply of fruits and vegetables. This is because they do not get enough supply of nutrients that are important for eye health.
A simple way of ensuring adequate intake of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals is by juicing. Juicing makes it easier to consume foods that would otherwise be not so appealing to eat.