Eye Health in Older Age

Published: 22/05/2019

You're more likely to suffer from eye problems as you get older, but staying healthy and taking preventative measures could make all the difference to your eye health in older age.

According to recent Eye Health Week statistics, around 2 million people in the UK live with some form of sight loss that interferes with their daily lives. Yet it’s estimated that half of this sight loss could be avoided if we all took better care of our eye health. In older age, we’re more likely to suffer from eye conditions including:

  • Glaucoma – pressure in the eye can lead to problems with peripheral vision and, ultimately, permanent sight loss.

  • Cataracts – changes to the lens in your eye cause your vision to become blurred.

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – this affects the central part of your field of vision and can make it hard to do things like reading and driving.

  • Diabetic retinopathy – if you have diabetes it can affect the blood flow to the retina, causing damage to your eyesight.

Many eye conditions have excellent treatment outcomes if help is sought early enough, but the risk of developing problems in the first place can also be reduced by looking after our vison and general health.

Prevention is better than cure

Here are a few of the ways you can help keep your eyesight in tip top shape:

Have regular eye tests
It’s generally recommended that you go for an eye test every two years, although if you’ve already been diagnosed with an eye problem, you may have to go more frequently. The test can pick up some eye conditions long before they cause problems, so it’s really important not to put it off. The good news is that many people are entitled to a free NHS eye test, so it’s a good idea to see if you qualify.

Eat healthily and exercise
Ok, so the old adage that carrots help you see in the dark might be a bit far-fetched but there’s a grain of truth in it. A balanced diet with plenty of healthy foods like fresh vegetables and fruits can help ensure that your eyes get the nutrients they need to function well. Healthy eating and taking the recommended amount of daily exercise also means you’ll be less likely to suffer from conditions that can affect eyesight, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Give up smoking
Most people don’t associate smoking and eye damage but it can have a serious effect on your vision. In fact, smoking can increase your risk of developing all of the eye conditions listed above and research has shown that it is as strongly linked with sight loss as it is with lung cancer. Giving up smoking is notoriously hard to do but you can get support to quit from the NHS Smokefree website.
Keep them protected
Our eyes are a very sensitive part of the body, so we need to make sure we protect them as much as we can. Looking directly into the sun or at bright light reflected off water or snow, for example, can be damaging.  Wearing sunglasses with UV filters when in bright conditions can go a long way towards reducing your risk of developing cataracts. Eyes are also easily injured, so if you’re finally getting around to doing that spot of DIY or trying that dangerous sport, it might be an idea to make sure you’ve got some protective glasses on before you start!
If you want to test how well you’re looking after your eyes, there’s a handy Vision Matters Eye Health Calculator to give you some pointers on areas of improvement. And if you’ve been putting it off for too long, it’s finally time to book that eye test!

Helping people take care of their health

Bluebird Care's role as homecare providers to the Bromley community means we often care for customers living with sight loss and other health conditions. We’re actively involved in helping the people we care for to live as healthily as possible, attend those all-important check-ups and live life to the full.
If you’d like to know more about how our private care at home could help you or a relative, get in touch for a chat on 020 8315 0236 or send us a message.