How to care for your vision and eyes as you age.

The eyes are the window to the soul.
— Leonardo Da Vinci

Looking after your eyes when you are younger can preserve your vision for years, but aging can cause unforeseen complications such as glaucoma, loss of sight and dry eyes. At around the age of 50, we’re all likely to start experiencing some degree of trouble with our vision, especially when trying to read. When this happens, there is no need to panic! Here are some tips to care for your eyes now so that you can continue to live a full colour life as you age.


1. Maintain a healthy diet.

As with most things, good eye health starts with the healthy food on your plate. Eating plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables is key to good all round health and experts agree that if you consume at least five to nine servings daily, you should be just fine! Fill your plate with good nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, vitamin C, A and E. Eat dark leafy greens (spinach and kale), fish (salmon and tuna), protein (eggs, nuts and beans), and citrus (oranges and grapefruit). Not only will a well-balanced and healthy diet help maintain your vision, but also your weight. Obesity and weight related diseases are amongst the leading causes of blindness in adults.


2. Protect your eyes.

Owning the right pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Too much exposure to UV rays boosts the chance of cataracts forming. When you’re out in the sun, even in winter, it’s important to wear sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat for full protection from harmful radiation. Be careful with polarised or mirror-coated lenses as they don’t automatically block UV rays, but rather have different features. Spend a little extra on 100% UV protected sunglasses, and reap the benefits.


3. Give your eyes a break.

Most of us spend a lot of  time in front of screens, whether it be the television or a computer screen, which puts a strain on our eyes. We suggest sticking to the 20-20-20 rule to potentially reduce the damage on your eyes. Every 20 minutes spend at least 20 seconds staring at a spot 20 feet in front of you. Doesn’t take too much effort does it? If you know you are going to be spending your day working on a computer, make sure to make your screen eye level, use an anti-glare screen or adjust the screen lighting to avoid a harsh glare, sit in a comfortable and supportive chair, blink frequently to avoid dry eyes, and take a break every two hours or so.


4. Keep your blood pressure in check.

Fluctuating blood pressure levels can harm the blood vessels in the retina, potentially leading to vision problems, and even blindness. Diabetics and those with high blood pressure should take extra care to keep their levels in check to maintain the health of their eyes.


5. Visit your eye doctor regularly

We all need regular eye exams, even children. Eye examinations find diseases such as glaucoma that show no symptoms. If you spot this in time, it’s easy to treat! Many age-related eye diseases have few or even no symptoms in the beginning, which is why going to get your eyes tested every year is very important. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have about your vision, and history of eye problems in your family.


Protecting your eyesight is one of the most important things you can do to keep your quality of life. Following these steps is no guarantee of perfect vision but by maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle and having regular eye exams, it will certainly decrease your risk of developing a problem that could’ve been prevented.


Wendy Bezuidenhout