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As we age, so do our eyes. Few people get away with perfect vision, especially once they are over age 40. Vision problems seem to be a commonly accepted part of aging. However, there are many ways you can take care of your eyes and keep them as healthy as possible.

The most common cause of eye problems is refractive errors. These can happen any time in one’s life and include far-sightedness, near-sightedness, and astigmatism. Problems that develop later in life are the next common causes. Cataracts are the most common cause of blindness, followed by glaucoma. Fortunately, there are a few things we can do to minimize our risk of experiencing problems.

8 Ways to Promote Eye Health

There are several things that you can do to ensure that you maintain the best possible eye health and avoid vision loss. Here are some basics to keep in mind:

  1. Schedule an annual eye exam. As we age, our bodies change and it is important to monitor any changes in our vision. Make sure to meet with your eye doctor regularly.
  2. Be aware of hazards. If you ever use power tools like drills or saws, use protective goggles to prevent anything from flying into your eyes and possibly scratching them.
  3. Avoid harmful elements. Cigarette smoke, UV rays, or sitting in front of a computer all day can all increase the risk of developing eye diseases like macular degeneration later on in life. Be mindful of household cleaners and chemicals as well. Keep eye drops in your medicine cabinet for those times you get something in your eye. They are also good to have on hand if you begin to experience dry eyes.
  4. Ask about multifocal lenses. During your eye examinations, have a talk with your optometrist about presbyopia. A tell-tale sign you might have this is if you begin to find that your arms are too short when reading a menu.
  5. Pay attention to vision changes. This might be blurred vision, pain, or double vision. Take it seriously and see your doctor.
  6. Understand how hypertension or diabetes affects your eyes. It is especially important to monitor your vision if you have either of these conditions. You need to be checked at least annually for conditions such as glaucoma.
  7. Get tested for cataracts. Cataracts are classified as an age-related disease. It is assumed by doctors that if we live long enough, we will develop cataracts. If your vision seems dim, let your optometrist or ophthalmologist know to test you. Cataract surgery has become very sophisticated and is done safely and with great results.
  8. Develop healthy eating habits and move your body. As with every other part of our body, making healthy lifestyle and dietary choices does make a difference that will help keep you as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

Read: How Vision Changes with Dementia

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7 Easy Eye Exercises that Slow Age-Related Vision Changes

As we get older, our eyes begin to degenerate resulting in decreased sharpness of vision and ability to focus. Doing daily exercises as part of an eye care routine can help them maintain, and over time improve their shape, and can slow the rate of eye deterioration.

These exercises are easy and can be done in a few short minutes every day. Just a reminder, don’t do any exercise that hurts. Be gentle with yourself. Here are seven simple exercises for naturally improving eyesight:

  1. Tracing. Trace the outlines of the objects around you with your eyes. Practice following the contours of the objects at various speeds. Doing this exercise for a few minutes each day can help strengthen eye muscles and increase their flexibility.
  2. Blinking. Blinking exercises are extremely easy to do and help to lubricate, relax and strengthen the eyes. Close your eyes for a few moments, relax and then blink 15 times. Blink lightly, yet rapidly. If you feel like you are straining the muscles around your eyes or your eyelids, you should slow down.
  3. Near/Far Focusing. This exercise helps to restore the eyes’ ability to rapidly shift focus between objects at various distances. Start by focusing on something situated very close to you. Allow your eyes to linger on this object long enough for them to clearly focus before focusing on an object 30 feet away. Upon completion, try focusing on an object 500 feet away and even further. Repeat.
  4. Zooming. This should be done slowly. Stretch your arm out in front of you with your hand in the “thumbs up” position. Focus on your thumb as your arm is extended out in front of you. Follow it with your eyes as you and bring your thumb closer to your face. Stop when your thumb is about 3 inches away from your face. Then, while maintaining focus on your thumb, slowly begin extending your arm out in front of you again.
  5. Squeeze Blinks. If you have been sitting in front of your computer for too long give your eyes a break. Take off your glasses, close your eyelids and gently squeeze them shut. You want to gently stimulate your eyes with a little squeeze. Squeeze for half a second, then relax. Repeat 10 times.
  6. Pencil Exercises. Take a pencil and hold it about 18 inches from your face at eye level. Then move it from left to right as far as you can see without moving your head. This will help your peripheral vision.
  7. Computer Games. Finally, there are computer games that help with developing your peripheral vision as well as other aspects of vision. One that is free is from Eye Can Learn. It is also worth checking out Lumosity for more sophisticated games.

There are many things that we can do to avoid age-related eye issues. While our eyes are considered by many to be the window to the soul, they also reflect our overall health.

Our editor also recommends you read:

12 Tips for Getting More Energy in Your 50s and Beyond

About the Author(s)

As a Volunteer Caregiver to the Zen Hospice Project and a Course Manager at the CareGivers Project, Audrey Meinertzhagen is passionate about improving the standards of care for older adults and educating caregivers on the principles of mindfulness and self-care.

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