Charleston, South Carolina, ophthalmologist Dr. John G.P. Boatwright Jr., MD, shares how to care for aging eyes.
When it comes to our health, most of us are pretty good about taking care of what we view as the big stuff. But our eyes? Consider them overworked and underpaid! Hindsight is always 20/20, but you can prevent potential damage to your vision if you show your precious peepers a little TLC. Here, Charleston, South Carolina-based ophthalmologist Dr. John G.P. Boatwright Jr., M.D., shares 3 ways to take care of your eyes as they age.
1. Get an Annual Eye Exam
Yes, even if you don't wear contacts or glasses. Annual dilated eye exams offer a microscopic, three-dimensional look at the optic nerve, says Dr. Boatwright, which can reveal otherwise invisible symptoms of conditions such as glaucoma. Glaucoma, he explains, causes the optic nerve to thin and deteriorate, leading to vision loss or blindness.
2. Wear Protective Sunglasses
"You don’t have to spend a lot of money on sunglasses to get a pair that has UV protection in the lens material,” says Dr. Boatwright. “The frames, the styles, and the brand are what make a pair cost more, but as long as you have UV protection in the lens material, that’s the key thing. That’s what helps slow UV-light damage to the retina," he says. Long-term sun exposure could speed up the development of cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (which causes the retina's center, called the macula, to deteriorate), especially in a patient predisposed to either of these conditions.
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3. Choose Healthy Habits
"Smoking and diet affect everything," Dr. Boatwright says. "There's almost as strong an association with age-related macular degeneration and smoking as with heart and lung diseases." You should eat your greens (the fibrous, leafy ones) and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, too: If you develop age-related macular degeneration, he says, a poor diet that’s high in fat and carbohydrates could put you at a greater risk for the condition to get worse.