Sight … Life, Aging, Diet & Exercise

Photograph courtesy of Romana Klee via Flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/nauright/4751006694/)

So … a weird title but it’s the best I can do! Having just fought with yet another piece of equipment, which involved trying to fit a USB into a space far too small for it (bad design), I realised that one of the things that I find most frustrating is not being able to see anything! Properly. Close up. The cause? Sight deterioration caused by aging.

The world, and everything in it, seems to be designed for 18-year-olds and there is a decided lack of consideration for those of us who are visually challenged, through no fault of our own; we’ve just reached that age. the aging process has limited our sight.

A friend of mine, of long-standing, has always had appalling eyesight, to the extent that she actually cannot see the numbers on the front of buses, and we all know how big they are! This hasn’t impeded her progress through life in any way and has created some shriekingly funny moments. One of my personal favourites …

Walking along an extremely dark street in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, I was in the lead and narrowly missed a large overhanging branch. “Duck” I called back. “Where?” BANG … Ouch!

All that aside, she is well-equipped to handle the decrease in eyesight as she moves through the aging process. She couldn’t see to begin with! If you have always had 20/20 vision, you’re not equipped at all, and the frustration level of less available sight can become extreme!

It’s the little things that drive you nuts … 

● trying to find the slit to tear at the corner of a packet,
● trying to fit USBs into slots for which they were not designed,
● trying to open a packet of biscuits,
● just trying to file your nails can be a trial.

What can you do about it? Start by identifying your specific problem, and then taking the action necessary. Yes, ultimately you will possibly have to visit an eye specialist, although many optometrists can supply the information and treatment you need.

General wear and tear
Long-arm syndrome (presbyopia), the curse of the over fifties, is mostly due to the aging process, although there are other factors to consider.

At about 10 years of age (yes, 10!), the lenses in your eye start to harden; we don’t notice any problems until we reach our mid-to-late forties.

Other than going to an optician and finding which strength glasses you need to read properly, there isn’t a lot you can do. But … you can slow the aging process with a diet rich in antioxidants; citrus fruits, green leafy veg, good protein, nuts and grains.

Fish oils and eating fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and trout (full of omega-3 fatty acids) are good for your eye health. And your brain!

Age-related macular degeneration – AMD
Few adults anywhere (sweeping statement!) are aware of AMD, despite it being one of the leading causes of blindness in the aging process.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin in the US, found people with an active lifestyle were 70 per cent less likely to develop AMD than those with sedentary lifestyles. Get exercising!

There is also a revolutionary treatment being offered by the London Eye Hospital; the EyeMax lens. You can contact them to find out if you’re suitable.

Glaucoma
After 40, your risk of glaucoma increases sharply. It is caused by a build-up of pressure inside the eye, which damages the optic nerve. Regular eye check-ups are essential.

More research into Glaucoma is needed, although a healthy lifestyle is likely to help; one study found antioxidant-rich green tea may protect against glaucoma.

Aerobic exercise reduces intra-ocular eye pressure; yet another reason to exercise … maintaining your vision.

Dry eyes
Caused by a lack of good-quality tear production, seems to be a huge problem for many, many people. The lack of good-quality tears makes the eyes dry and painful and affects your sight because it’s more comfortable to keep your eyes shut!

Dry eye affects twice as many women as men. It is made worse by central heating, air conditioning and regular computer use. Treatment is easy with over-the-counter drops. Talk to your local chemist.

Your body will produce better tear fluid when your diet contains good amounts of Omega 3 (fatty fish, grain bread, walnuts and sesame seeds). Sit as far away from the computer as you can and wear glasses with a low rating to see properly. Throw away any old eye make-up; especially Mascara.

Cataracts
Most common in the over-60s, cataracts are caused by the protein fibres in the eye undergoing chemical changes; a little like egg white. Your sight fades gradually and at night, you will notice a halo around lights; interesting!

Cataracts are easily fixed by replacing the lens with a plastic implant; this is done with a local anaesthetic and usually takes an hour or two in a day-care centre. It may take a few days for your sight to be restored. Or it may be instantaneous.

Cataracts are linked to a diet high in saturated fats, smoking, excessive exposure to sunlight, diabetes and high blood pressure. You can watch a slide show here …

This is an image of my eyes … I have had lens replacements for both eyes and you certainly can’t see them!

All in all, eyesight is yet another part of us that we need to keep an eye on (pardon the pun). If you start to have eye problems, it’s probably a good idea to cut back on the amount of eye make-up you use. Especially mascara. Most importantly, other than good diet, no smoking, regular exercise and sleep, regular check-ups are a necessity.

 

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