You may have enjoyed bright vivid colours watching movies for long hours, played video games, and read until your eyes could take no longer before falling asleep late in the night. You may still be carelessly doing all these if you are young.
All this had always been the norm, but suddenly you realize it is not so pleasant anymore. You feel something missing or atleast less attractive in what you see. Some colours are not so colourful, watching movies and reading blogs are now straining your eyes.
It’s time to check your vision before it blurs!
Although for many, the vision problems can affect even at childhood, a healthy person might feel a slight change in vision as they touch their 40s. Perhaps you need glasses to read or have more trouble adjusting to glare or distinguishing some colours.
Don’t get anxious, these changes are a normal part of ageing. As we age our physical strength decreases, so does our vision which weakens as we grow older.
Common Age-related Eye Diseases and Conditions
Let’s understand some common age-related eye diseases which need immediate attention and treatment before the condition deteriorates.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
AMD is an eye disease associated with ageing that gradually damages sharp, central vision. You need a central vision for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks such as reading and driving.
Another common eye disease is cataract, a clouding of the lens in the eye. Vision with cataract can appear blurry or cloudy, colours may seem faded, and you may notice a lot of glare.
Diabetic Eye Disease
One of the leading causes of blindness is diabetic eye disease. It is a complication caused because of diabetes. The most common form in this category is diabetic retinopathy which occurs when diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels inside the retina.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and result in vision impairment and blindness. It is usually associated with high pressure in the eye and affects the side or peripheral vision.
Dryness happens when the eye does not produce tears properly, or when the tears evaporate too quickly and are not of the correct consistency. Dry eye can make it more difficult to perform some of your daily activities, such as reading or using a computer for an extended period.
Sometimes even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicines, or surgery, people may find everyday tasks difficult to do due to vision difficulties. This is because of Low Vision. Reading the mail, watching TV, shopping, cooking, and writing can seem challenging.
How Ageing Affects Our Eyes?
Besides the common age-related eye diseases, there are several changes in our vision and eyes that take place as we grow older. These changes include:
Loss of Peripheral Vision
Ageing causes a normal depletion of peripheral vision, with the size of our visual field decreasing by approximately one to three degrees per decade of life. When you reach your 70s and 80s, you may have significantly lost a peripheral visual field of 20 to 30 degrees.
Be more alert while driving because losing the visual field increases the risk of accidents. To increase your range of vision, it is wise to turn your head and look both ways when approaching intersections and ensure safety.
Reduced Pupil Size
The muscles that control your pupil size and reaction to light may lose some strength as you age. This causes the pupil to reduce in size and become less responsive to changes in ambient lighting.
Because of such changes in vision power, people above 60 years of age need approximately thrice more ambient light for comfortable reading than the younger generation.
Moreover, elderly people are more likely to be blinded temporarily by bright sunlight or glare when emerging from a dimly lit building such as a movie theatre. Eyeglasses with photochromic lenses and anti-reflective coating can help minimize this problem.
Decreased Color Vision
As we age, cells in the retina responsible for the colour vision decline in its sensitivity. This causes colours to appear less bright and the contrast between colours to be less noticeable. Therefore, with high-quality HD TV channels and multi-dimensional movies, the view is not so pleasant and definitely not an optimized vision.
In particular, blue colours may appear bleached. If you work in a profession that requires colour discrimination (like artists or graphic designers), you should know there is no proper treatment for this age-related loss of colour perception. Prevention is always better.
The gel-like vitreous inside the eye liquefies as you age. It pulls away from the retina, causing “spots and floaters” and flashes of light. However, this condition, called vitreous detachment, is usually harmless.
But floaters and flashes of light can be a symptom of a detached retina — a serious problem that can eventually cause blindness if neglected. If you experience flashes and floaters, consult your eye doctor immediately to determine the cause.
10 Tips to Improve Your Eyesight
Getting regular eye checkups will be the primary and simplest way you can improve your eyesight and prevent injuries or illnesses. Here are 10 super tips to improve your eyesight.
1. Get the Essential Nutrients
Food sources for these essential nutrients include a variety of colourful vegetables and fruits, such as:
- red peppers
- sweet potato
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed and salmon, are also recommended for better vision.
There are more sources of nutrients that can help improve your eyesight. You can get lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids found in the retina in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, zucchini, and eggs.
These nutrients are also available in supplement form and are safe. These carotenoids help protect the macula by improving pigment density in that part of the eye and absorbing ultraviolet and blue light.
3. Stay Fit
Exercises and maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) can also help your eyes, and not just your waistline. People with Type 2 diabetes who are overweight or obese can cause serious damage to the tiny blood vessels in the eyes because of their excess weight. This condition is known as Diabetic Retinopathy.
Too much sugar circulating in your bloodstream can damage the delicate walls of your arteries. Diabetic retinopathy causes these tiny arteries in your retina to leak blood and fluid into the eye, consequently harming your vision.
Getting your blood sugar levels checked regularly and staying fit and lean can minimize the possibility of developing Type 2 diabetes and its many complications.
4. Manage Chronic Conditions
Medical conditions such as high blood pressure and multiple sclerosis can adversely affect your eyesight. These conditions are linked to chronic inflammation, which can harm your overall health and specific organs.
For example, inflammation of the optic nerve can cause pain and lead to complete vision loss. As you cannot prevent multiple sclerosis, try to control its severity with a healthy lifestyle and medications.
High blood pressure can be effectively treated with appropriate exercise, anti-hypertensive medications, and a heart-healthy diet.
5. Wear Protective Eyewear
Whether you’re playing tennis, working in your garage, or browsing on the computer, it’s vital that you always protect your eyes with appropriate eyewear.
Tough, protective eyewear is essential if there is a probable risk of sharp objects, chemicals, or materials such as wood shavings, or metal shards, hitting your eye.
Many of the protective eyewear is made with a polycarbonate material, which is tougher than other forms of plastic.
6. Include Sunglasses
Wearing sunglasses is one of the most important steps you can take for protecting your eyesight, or atleast minimize the dangers of UV radiation. You should use sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation from sunlight.
Sunglasses help protect your eyes from vision damage. You need eye protection for conditions such as cataracts, and macular degeneration. Pterygiums, a growth of tissue over the white part of the eye can lead to astigmatism, which can cause blurred vision.
Alternatively, you can use small hole glasses that is widely believed can improve vision. Though not scientifically proven, even ophthalmologists recommend these devices. A 10-20% improvement in vision was achieved in 2-4 weeks in some pinhole vision improvement tests. You just need to wear these glasses for 15 minutes a day.
Also, wearing a wide-brimmed hat can help protect your eyes from scorching sun rays.
7. Follow the 20-20-20 Rule
Your roving eyes work hard during the day and need a break at regular intervals. The strain can be intense if you work at a computer or other strenuous task for long stretches at a time. To ease the strain, follow the 20-20-20 rule.
The rule is: for every 20 minutes, stop staring at your computer and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives ample relief to your eyes from the strain at the workplace.
8. Quit Smoking
Did you know smoking is bad not only for your lungs and heart but also for your hair, skin, teeth, and just about every other body part? And that includes your eyes, too. Smoking emphatically raises your risk of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Fortunately, all your body parts can recover from years of tobacco-induced harm within a few weeks of rehabilitation. The longer you can avoid smoking, the more your blood vessels will improve and inflammation becomes less intense throughout your eyes.
9. Learn Your Family’s Eye Health History
Some eye conditions are hereditary, so being aware of eye conditions that your lineage had can help you take precautions.
Hereditary conditions include:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Optic atrophy
- Retinal degeneration
Understanding your family history can be helpful in early detection and treatment.
10. Keep your Hands and Lenses Clean
Your eyes are always vulnerable to germs and infections. Eyes are so sensitive that even things that simply irritate your eyes can affect your vision. So, always wash your hands before touching your eyes or handling your contact lenses.
It’s also crucial to wash your hands and disinfect your contact lenses as instructed. Germs in your contact lenses can lead to bacterial infections of the eyes.
You may not comprehend washing your hands, eating nutritious food, or watching your weight as crucial precautions toward better eyesight, but the truth is they all play a vital role.
Living a healthier lifestyle and protecting your eyes from the sun and harmful objects may not protect against every eye condition. But they can all lower your odds of developing a problem that could otherwise damage your vision.
The Bates Method is a natural vision improvement technique discovered by Dr. William Horatio. It would be prudent to try it. Nevertheless, what could be a better treatment that improves your vision without eyeglasses, contact lens, or eye surgery?
Seeing the world with a blurry vision or complete darkness can be a grim sight. Life is more beautiful only if you can see its beauty.