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Surprising connections to eye health

Burt, right, and Ellie Landy get their morning exercise during their 3.2 mile walk around the Granada Golf Course in Coral Gables, Florida. Among the many benefits of regular exercise is maintaining good eye health.
Burt, right, and Ellie Landy get their morning exercise during their 3.2 mile walk around the Granada Golf Course in Coral Gables, Florida. Among the many benefits of regular exercise is maintaining good eye health. Miami Herald/MCT

Our eyes are delicate yet important organs, and with age comes issues related to them.

After age 65, be sure to have a complete eye exam with your ophthalmologist every year or two.

That’s to check for age-related macular degeneration, diabetic degeneration, glaucoma or cataracts and other eye conditions, according to the American Academy of Opthamology.

While these conditions might be familiar, here are some age-related eye health concerns that might surprise you.

Around the home

Protective eyewear can be your good friend if you’re involved in an improvement project; according to the AAO, about half of all eye injuries occur in or around the home most often during improvement projects. Keep a pair of certified safety glasses on hand for this purpose.

Changes in vision and balance as we age can lead to falls. To keep from injuring your eyes and to help reduce the risk of falls in general, make sure tub mats and rugs are slip proof; cushion sharp corners and edges around the house, and secure railings so they don’t become loose.

Women and eyes

According to the AAO, glaucoma occurs more often in women than men, and glaucoma is more likely to lead to visual impairment or blindness in women. Also, women are 24 percent less likely to be treated for glaucoma. Women also are more likely to have cataracts.

Activity

Did you know exercise can affect your eyes? Oxygen and good blood circulation are important for eye health, and regular exercise can stimulate both. Keeping your weight in the normal range through diet and exercise can reduce the risk of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous. Regular walking, yoga, tai chi or stretching and breathing exercises can be effective methods. Be sure to wear sunscreen and sunglasses when you exercise outdoors.

Shut eye

Sleep might be another surprise element in good eye health. When your eyes are closed, they enjoy continuous lubrication. Also, dust, allergens, smoke and other irritants get a change to be swept out as we sleep.

“Some research suggests that light-sensitive cells in the eye are important to our ability to regulate our wake-sleep cycles,” the AAO states. “This becomes more crucial as we age, when more people have problems with insomnia. While it’s important that we protect our eyes from over-exposure to UV light, our eyes also need exposure to some natural light every day to help maintain normal sleep-wake cycles.”

Tammy Smith: 228-896-2130, @Simmiefran1

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