The month of August brings awareness to an important part of the body that often gets overlooked—the eyes. It’s National Eye Exam Month, a time in which millions of Americans are encouraged to get their vision checked. With older Americans being particularly vulnerable to vision impairments and eye diseases, it’s important that we all get our eyes regularly examined as we age.
Not enough Americans are getting their eyes examined. According to the CDC, “61 million U.S. adults [are] at high risk for vision loss,” but only half of them have visited the eye doctor in the past year. Some of the eye problems that older Americans need to be screened for include age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.
AMD is a disease that deteriorates the macula and destroys sharp, central vision. Diabetic retinopathy affects the retina and can lead to blindness, and glaucoma leads to optic nerve damage. Lastly, there is cataracts, the most common age-related eye condition. People with cataracts have vision problems due to clouding of the lens.
Over 36 million Americans over the age of 40 are already visual impaired or have age-related eye diseases. To protect your eyes, consider the tips listed below.
- Treat your eyes well. To protect your eyes you must take extra precautionary steps. Reading or working in a dimly lit room can strain your eyes, so turn on your light fixtures when you’re working. Invest in quality sunglasses that will protect your eyes—the best sunglasses will protect 100 percent of UV-A and UV-V radiation. Also, remember, if you stare at a computer screen for most of your workday, take regular breaks to give your eyes a rest.
- Mind what you eat. There are certain foods you can eat to protect your eyes and keep them healthy. Carrots are packed with beta-carotene, which is good for your retinas—they also make the perfect mid-afternoon snack. Be sure to eat lots of red bell peppers, broccoli, papaya, and strawberries as well. These fruits and veggies are high in vitamin C, which supports healthy blood vessels in the eyes and reduce the risk of cataracts. Also, consider eating almonds—they’re high in vitamin E, which is great for delaying cataract formation.
- Talk to your doctor. Even if you think your vision is in tip-top shape it’s important that you get your eyes checked out. Make an appointment with the eye doctor this month and be sure to make appointments for other family members as well.