It’s practically a fact of life that anyone will eventually need glasses to read. It is extremely rare for someone to get to 60 years of age without needing glasses now and again. As we age, the lens of the eye tends to harden and the eyes of the muscles get weaker, making it more difficult to focus. Young people can focus at just about any distance, but over time, the focal point moves slowly farther away until it becomes very difficult, or even impossible, to read small print, no matter where it’s held.
If your job requires a lot of reading, you’re much more likely to develop this condition and may need glasses well before you reach the age of 60. Once your sight starts to diminish, chances are good it will stay that way, but there are certainly some ways you can slow or even stall the deterioration. If you take good care of your eyes, you may even note some improvement.
1. Eating for Your Eyes
It’s an old belief that eating carrots is good for your eyes — and that belief is not entirely wrong. Carrots contain large amounts of vitamin A, which is very beneficial to vision. Vitamin A is not the only one, however. Look for foods rich in vitamins C or E. Make sure you get plenty of copper and zinc in your diet, as well.
Macular degeneration can be a big problem for eyes, especially as you get older. Antioxidants, found in foods like egg yolks, yellow peppers, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and yes, carrots, can stave off macular degeneration.
Fish is also good for your eyes. Coldwater fish like wild salmon, cod, or mackerel contain DHA, a fatty acid which strengthens cell membranes, likewise strengthening your eyes.
2. Eye Exercises
Eyes have muscles, and like any muscles, they could use a little exercise to keep them in better shape. Try the eye exercises below in the morning when you wake up, right before you go to bed, or anytime your eyes feel tired. Keep them up for a month on a consistent basis and you may well notice a difference for the better.
Start by warming your eyes… literally. Rub your palms together until you can feel them heat from the friction, then put them over your eyes for five seconds. Repeat three times. Rolling your eyes can be more than just an expression of annoyance. Look up and circle your eyes slowly ten times in one direction, then ten times in the other.
Sharpen your focus by holding a pen at arm’s length, then focusing on it. Slowly move the pen closer until it’s six inches from your nose. Then, slowly move it back out, keeping your eyes focused at all times. Repeat ten times.
3. Full Body Exercise
Twenty minutes or so of exercise during the day is good for your whole body, including your eyes. The improved circulation of blood through your body benefits the many tiny blood vessels in your eyes, cleaning them of any harmful substances that may have accumulated there. It doesn’t have to be intense exercise — a brisk walk will do.
4. Rest Your Eyes
Sometimes, just closing your eyes for a few minutes can really help. About once an hour or so, while you’re hard at work, close your eyes for about ten minutes. If your job involves a lot of reading or sitting in front of the computer, this can be especially refreshing. This simple practice will go a long way toward preventing your eyes from becoming over-tired.
5. Get Some Sleep
It’s not enough to just rest your eyes, of course. Your whole body needs a good night’s sleep. Any doctor will tell you how important sleep is to your general health and wellbeing. A great benefit of that is how it can also improve your vision. Your eyes are renewed along with the rest of your body when you’re asleep.
Short naps can also help, because your eyes will have an opportunity to rest, especially if you’ve been engaging in visually intensive activities.
6. Make Your Surroundings Eye Friendly
There are a lot of things that surround us on a day to day basis that are bad for your eyes. It has already been established that staring at a computer screen too long isn’t a good thing. Fluorescent lights, swimming pool chlorine, air conditioning, and dim lighting when reading can all contribute to making vision decline. Watch for these conditions and do what you can to reduce your exposure to them. It could be as simple as resting your eyes every once in a while, as noted above.
7. Avoid Smoking
Smoking is not good for you in a number of ways, but it can also contribute to blindness. Age-related macular degeneration is much more likely to occur in smokers. In fact, cigarette smoke can decrease those eye-beneficial antioxidants and cause cataracts.
8. There’s an App For That
An app called UltimEyes purports to help sharpen the eyes of those who use it by making the eyes work hard to complete tasks. Developed by a neuroscientist with the University of California, the app says it can help the brain process visual information.
Whether you’ve been blessed with 20/20 vision your entire life or have been wearing prescription lenses since you were a child, you need to be proactive when it comes to maintaining your eyes’ health, especially if you’re over 50.