Our health tends to deteriorate incrementally after the age of 40. Our eyes are not excluded. Some understanding and prevention now can significantly improve your quality of life down the road.

Eye Health

https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/healthy-vision/keep-your-eyes-healthy. Initially, health improvement (and many other subjects) begins with awareness, then education, and finally action. What problems could you have with your eyes? What can you do to improve what you have today and reduce the risk of an eye problem as you grow older?

A quick Google search about eye health will tell you to get your eyes examined regularly. They state that you may be at high risk if your family has a history of eye disease or if you are obese. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health issues can also affect your vision.

Almost every health article will tell you to eat the right foods, exercise routinely, quit smoking, moderate your alcohol intake, and protect your eyes. In addition, safety glasses are mandated in many companies when your work hazards potentially can harm your eyes. However, sunglasses are a personal responsibility.

I used to wear sunglasses a lot when I flew in the military many years ago. Around the time I retired from flying, my personal choice changed – from wearing sunglasses regularly to rarely wearing them today.

I wear blue-filter glasses when I work on my computer to reduce eye strain. Without the blue-filter glasses, I will have a headache within thirty minutes.

blueIf you wear contacts, it is strongly recommended to wash your hands before putting in or taking out your contacts. Disinfect your contacts regularly and replace them as needed. That is the general information available to everyone. What else should you know?

Aging and Eye Health

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/8567-common-age-related-eye-problems. Aging affects our eyes. The older we get, the more likely we have vision problems. I earned an alternate position to go to the Naval Academy in the mid-60s. The primary selectee chose to attend the Academy, and I went to college the old-fashioned way – I paid for it myself. However, I did decide to join the Navy and become an aviator.

I have had an aviation physical every year from 1968 through 1999. I never had any eye problems. After I left the Navy, I continued having annual health physicals, but those did not include extensive heart, hearing, or eye examinations that I routinely had during my flight physicals.

What about today? From an eye perspective, I know that I have a potential glaucoma problem (my mother and grandmother had glaucoma). However, one day I am normal, and, on another visit, I might be on the border of having glaucoma. I also have cataracts, and they will probably be removed within the next decade.

My far vision (around 20/10 to 20/15) is still good. My near vision was perfect and has faded a bit to 20/30. I wear glasses when I drive – not for vision assistance but to decrease eye irritation from air movement. I do not wear glasses to read.

I have dry eyes exacerbated by the air conditioner (both in the car, offices, and my home). I can accommodate the eye irritation with eye drops or rapidly blinking to relubricate my eyes. My peripheral and color vision are still excellent, and I read several hours a day from both books and computer screens. That’s enough about me. What should you be aware of as you grow older?

Eye health can deteriorate at any age. However, you do not have to be over 40 to begin having problems. Some problems may be presbyopia (normal aging – needing longer arms to read/see things close clearly – along with myopia, nearsightedness and hyperopia, farsightedness), floaters and flashers (tiny specks that pass in front of our eyes), astigmatism (blurry vision), dry eyes (keratoconjunctivitis sicca – our tear glands do not make enough tears), and watery eyes (epiphora – many causes).

Eye diseases that we should know about are cataracts (the lens of the eye begins to cloud up, restricting light from entering the optic nerve), glaucoma (increased pressure inside the eye), and retinal disorders (macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal detachment).

AMD, also known as age-related macular degeneration, is the loss of cells in the macular, the part of the eye that provides you with the details of an object. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes. The small eye blood vessels stop functioning and cause various eye problems. Retinal detachment happens when the different layers of the retina separate.

Pink eye or red eye (conjunctivitis) occurs when the tissue around the eyelids becomes inflamed. Corneal diseases have many symptoms and causes. Eyelid problems can occur likewise – many symptoms and causes. Temporal arteritis occurs when the arteries in the temple become obstructed or inflamed.

Lifestyle & Eye Health

https://www.lifeextension.com/protocols/eye-ear/eye-health. We have a baseline knowledge of our health when we have routine health or wellness physicals. When something changes, we have a reference to compare it and are better equipped to act early.

Chronic low-level cellular inflammation is the root cause of nearly every disease. Free radical damage and the immune response from bacteria, viruses, and fungi are the primary causes. The foods we eat provide antioxidants to reduce and control inflammation. However, the wrong choices in nutrition can lead to oxidative stress and the beginning of a world of hurt down the road.

Eating right involves meeting the body’s needs of roughly thirty-plus nutrients daily – carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. In addition, exercising, smoking avoidance, alcohol in moderation (or abstinence), stress and weight management, and sun exposure protection can help your total body health as well as your eye health.

B-complex vitamins (folic acid, B6, and B12), omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin), astaxanthin, and carnosine have been shown to help with overall eye health, visual acuity, and reduced visual fatigue.

Google and YouTube have excellent sources of information on eye exercises. Just as our bodies need exercise to perform better, our eyes also need to be exercised. One recent study showed that distance vision improved, and eye fatigue was reduced by 50%. https://www.ayujournal.org/article.asp?issn=0974-8520;year=2012;volume=33;issue=4;spage=543;epage=546;aulast=Gopinathan

Beware that there is a lot of information available on the web. Some articles tell us that eye exercises are good, and others tell us the reverse. It seems strange that medically supervised eye exercises are OK and self-help regimens are not. I have read both positive and negative on the Bates Method and the See Clearly Method. Who is right? I do not know.


We age, and our health degrades for many reasons. Some people remain healthy despite their lifestyle choices. Others try hard to maintain good health, and it is elusive. Our eyes are things we use daily and take for granted until something happens.

Common sense prevails to minimize the risk of eye health degradation. Avoid over-exposure to ultraviolet light. Sunglasses are good for that. Blood sugar and lipid (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.) control are mandatory for many reasons other than eye health. Likewise, blood pressure monitoring is required to minimize cardiac, brain, and eye health risks. The link above from Life Extension (under Lifestyle & Eye Health) is one of the most inclusive articles about eye health and its nutrients.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com

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