I’m a 62-year old Certified Nutritionist, Weight Loss Specialist, and Gerontologist and I’m not thrilled with the aging process. Since I’d better “walk the walk,” I hit the gym every morning and eat a very healthy diet. Still, I’m constantly reminded that I’m no longer living in a 20-year-old body. My workouts focus on injury avoidance rather than setting a new PR. I long for the days when I could indulge in caloric treats without getting a rude shock at my morning weigh in. Like everyone, I have fears about losing my faculties in my old age.
Americans’ Biggest Fear is Losing Their Vision
What disabling malady worries you the most? My number one dread is losing my eyesight. Going blind scares me even more than creepy Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, who gave me nightmares for years. A recent online poll confirms that I am not alone. Blindness is what most Americans fear the most. Eighty-eight percent of the respondents identified good vision as critical to their quality of life and to maintaining independence. The study’s researcher, Dr. Adrienne Scott, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins University, concluded that “having good vision is key to one’s overall sense of well-being.”
Three Lifestyle Changes That Can Preserve Your Eyesight
While we can’t control our genes, there’s a lot we can do to prevent vision loss to diseases like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight.
Maintaining a healthy weight is a proactive measure we can all take to keep our eyes functioning well. It’s well worth the effort to avoid joining the ranks of the 71 percent of American adults who are overweight or obese. The American Medical Association recently classified obesity as a disease in recognition of the dire health consequences of this pandemic. Dr. Ali Mokdad, Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics at the University of Washington, characterizes being overweight or obese as a “public health epidemic that must be stopped.”
The well-known health ramifications of obesity include Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. But, obesity also causes elevated blood pressure inside the eyes, which increases the risk of developing vision-robbing glaucoma. Being overweight is also associated with diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and cataracts.
- Get Regular Vision Check-Ups.
Another practical measure critical to a healthy lifestyle is getting regular vision check-ups. Many of us habitually schedule yearly exams with our primary treating physicians yet we neglect eye exams, often incorrectly assuming that our vision is fine. According to a Harris Poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans report eye and vision problems, but only one in eight have seen a medical doctor for an eye exam.
Regular vision check-ups are a must. “Just like graying hair, weakening hips, and slowing metabolism, our eyes are impacted by age, usually starting around age 40,” said Rebecca J. Taylor, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Having regular exams to prevent potentially blinding eye disease” should be part of an overall health maintenance plan. To maintain a lifetime of healthy vision, the American Optometric Association recommends a comprehensive eye exam every two years for adults ages 18 to 60, and annual exams after that.
- Eat Healthy Foods.
I subscribe to Hippocrates’ “food is medicine” prescription. Consuming a healthy diet goes a long way to keeping vision intact. These three nutrients should be included in your diet:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These essential fats help prevent macular degeneration and other eye diseases. Salmon, eggs, chia seeds, walnuts, and dark leafy greens are all good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin: These antioxidants are carotenoids found in the retina. Eating foods rich in these nutrients, such as yellow and orange-colored fruits and vegetables, improves the pigment density in the macula.
- Vitamins A, C, and E: These three vitamins have been identified as vision friendly nutrients. Good sources are fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Thank you to our wonderful guest blogger, Lorie Eber, Precision Nutrition Certified Professional / Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach / Wellcoaches Credentialed Wellness Coach / NASM Certified Personal Trainer / Gerontologist / Attorney / Author / Keynote Speaker. For more information about Lorie please visit Lorie Eber Wellness Coaching.