How to maintain eye health: Tips for senior citizens

India has an estimated 25% of visually impaired individuals 

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According to medical experts, the elderly encounters a spectrum of challenges such as dry eye, cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, etc.

Age-related vision impairment and blindness are intricately linked to the aging process and the emergence of late-life disabilities. Despite encompassing approximately 17% of the global population, India harbors an estimated 25% of visually impaired individuals worldwide within its borders. This proportion is poised to surge further as India’s population experiences rapid aging and expansion. 

According to medical experts, the elderly encounters a spectrum of challenges – dry eye, cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, and eyelid conditions like ptosis, entropion, and ectropion being common concerns. 

Notably, cataracts pose a prevailing threat among seniors, obscuring the eye’s innate lens and yielding effects like visual blurriness, heightened light sensitivity, and struggles with nocturnal vision. The silver lining, however, lies in modern medical breakthroughs – a solution surfaces in the form of surgical extraction followed by the implantation of artificial lenses, an intervention that effectively reinstates clear sight and rejuvenates overall life quality.

Rather than succumbing to these adversities, seniors can proactively safeguard their ocular well-being by embracing progressive eye care strategies, capitalizing on cutting-edge medical interventions, and demonstrating unwavering dedication to nurturing their eye health. This collective approach ensures that seniors can bask in life’s intricate experiences with amplified clarity and vibrancy, upholding the richness of their journey.

As people age, the risk of various eye conditions increases, such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and dry eyes. 

Here are some tips for senior citizens to maintain their eye health:

Regular eye exams: Schedule regular comprehensive eye exams with an eye specialist, preferably annually or as recommended by your doctor. Early detection and treatment of eye conditions can prevent or slow down their progression.

Balanced diet: Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids. Foods such as leafy greens, fish, citrus fruits, and nuts can support overall eye health.

Hydration: Ensure proper hydration by drinking enough water. Adequate hydration supports tear production and prevents dry eyes.

Quit smoking: If you smoke, quitting can significantly reduce the risk of developing eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts.

UV protection: Shield your eyes from harmful ultraviolet radiation by wearing sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays. This practice helps prevent cataracts and other UV-related eye issues.

Manage chronic conditions: Keep chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension under control, as they can affect eye health. Adhere to your doctor’s recommendations and take prescribed medications as directed.

Manage blood sugar: For individuals with diabetes, maintaining stable blood sugar levels can help prevent diabetic retinopathy, a potentially sight-threatening condition.

Eye safety: Guard your eyes against potential hazards by wearing safety glasses during activities that could cause eye injury.

Rest breaks: If engaging in extended periods of reading or using digital devices, follow the 20-20-20 rule: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes, looking at something 20 feet away to reduce eye strain.

Proper lighting: Ensure sufficient lighting when reading, working, or performing tasks requiring focus. Inadequate lighting can strain your eyes.

Eye exercises: Incorporate simple eye exercises, such as focusing on a near object and then a distant one, to maintain eye flexibility and alleviate eye strain.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Engage in regular physical activity, maintain a healthy weight, and manage stress. These factors contribute to overall well-being, indirectly impacting eye health.

Use lubricating eye drops: If experiencing dry eyes, consult a doctor regarding the use of preservative-free lubricating eye drops to keep the eyes moist.

Stay hygienic: Regularly wash your hands, especially before touching your eyes, to prevent eye infections.

Limit screen time: Minimize prolonged screen time and ensure proper screen ergonomics to reduce digital eye strain.

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Dr. Sneha Kankaria, Glaucoma and Cataract Consultant, Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital, Chembur, Mumbai

“Preserving our eye health is more than ensuring clear vision; it’s about nurturing the windows to our world,” emphasizes Dr Sneha Kankaria, glaucoma and cataract consultant, Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital, Chembur, Mumbai. “By embracing eye care today, we secure the richness of our experiences as we age. Regular eye check-ups, an antioxidant-rich diet, and an active lifestyle all contribute to maintaining our vision. Remember, prevention is our ally; early detection can avert irreversible damage.”

The experts emphasize annual eye examinations after 40, or more frequent checks for those with diabetes or hypertension. Early detection is vital, as many eye conditions progress silently. Prioritizing eye health not only sustains independent living but also safeguards the tales our eyes are yet to witness.

In the modern era, technology empowers visually impaired seniors, enhancing autonomy and engagement. Augmented reality, virtual reality, and low vision aids offer renewed opportunities for improved sight and self-sufficiency. It is vital to adopt a proactive approach to eye health. By prioritizing regular check-ups and embracing healthy habits, seniors can continue to relish life’s vibrant tapestry with unwavering clarity.

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