Eye health for older people

Rachael Smith - Thursday, October 20, 2016
As our eyesight gradually deteriorates as we get older, almost all of us will need to use glasses or contact lenses by the time we reach age 65. Our eye muscles begin to weaken at around age 45, it’s a part of the natural aging process that happens to us all at some point in our lives. At around age 60, it is likely you may need a separate pair of glasses for reading or close-up work or an addition to your existing prescription lenses such as bifocals or varifocals.

As you get older, it is important that you still attend regular eye tests. If you are aged 60 or older, you are entitled to a free NHS eye test every two years and every year if you’re aged 70 or older. However, a 2011 Age UK survey revealed that nearly 2 million people aged over 60 did not take advantage of these free eye tests within the previous two years.
An eye test will determine whether you need a different prescription for your contact lenses or glasses. Wearing the correct prescription will increase your overall quality of life and will reduce the likelihood of you suffering trips, falls or other accidents around the home. According to the research carried out by Age UK, poor vision was a factor in over 270,000 falls suffered by people aged over 60 in the past two years.

In addition to attending regular eye tests and keeping your prescription glasses or contact lenses up to date, there are several other things you can do to ensure your eyes stay healthy for as long as possible.
Quit smoking – quitting smoking has numerous health benefits, including reducing your chances of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration
Maintain a healthy weight – being overweight increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, which can lead to sight loss
Eat healthy – eating a balanced diet is important for your overall health, including the health of your eyes – eating plenty of fruit and vegetables may protect you from developing cataracts and AMD
Take regular exercise – good circulation and oxygen intake are important for your eye health – both of which are stimulated by taking part in regular exercise
Sleep well – during sleep, your eyes are constantly lubricated and irritants that have gotten into your eyes during the day such as dust and smoke are cleared out
Wear sunglasses – exposure to strong sunlight can damage your eyes and increase the risk of developing cataracts; make sure you wear sunglasses or contact lenses that have a built-in UV filter to ensure your eyes are protected
Good lighting – your eyes need three times as much light to see well when you’re aged 60 than they did when you were aged 20. Increase daylight in your home by keeping your curtains open and your windows clean, and make sure your electric lighting is always in good working order

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