Why You Need to Protect Your Eyes

Why You Need to Protect Your Eyes

Between the newly-blossoming May flowers and the beautiful springtime sunrises, there’s quite a lot to see this time of year. May is Healthy Vision Month, and the National Eye Institute is encouraging people everywhere to educate themselves on some of the more common risks to eye health, as well as preventative and protective measures you can take to keep your vision strong. Vision health is especially important for seniors, and learning the basics of vision care is an essential part of healthy senior living.

Common vision risks
Many of the more common factors that negatively affect eyesight are, unfortunately, unavoidable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vision loss or impairment is a natural part of aging for many seniors, even for those whose eyes have been good for most of their lives. Additionally, women tend to be at higher risk of developing sight-related problems. Family history also plays an important role. Some serious eye conditions such as macular degeneration, which can lead to retinal detachment and blindness, are largely hereditary. Glaucoma has similarly been linked to heredity, as the Glaucoma Research Foundation reported that siblings of a person living with glaucoma have a tenfold spike in the risk of developing the disease themselves.

Looking out for your eyes
While many risk factors for developing vision impairment may be unavoidable, there is still plenty you can do to help keep your eyes and your vision healthy. One of the most basic and most important things you can do is stay on top of prevention. Many vision problems, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, display little to no warning signs. Scheduling regular dilated eye exams is the best way to stay on top of these potential problems before they can manifest in harmful ways. These exams are noninvasive and allow doctors to examine the back of your eye where problems can occur. The GRF recommends getting such exams every six months to a year for those over 65.

There are also lifestyle adjustments you can make to protect your sight. Many vision risks are linked to diabetes, so keeping your weight and blood pressure at healthy levels is an important step you can take. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as most fish do wonders for your vision, as do leafy greens such as kale or spinach. If you plan on spending time out in the sun, more power to you! Just make sure to protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat, as direct exposure to the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays can easily damage your eyesight.