As we age, it’s natural for our eyesight to change. Trouble reading the small print, seeing in dim light and dry eyes – especially after the menopause – are all common complaints as we get older.
And while our risk of eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the leading cause of sight loss among over 65s – also goes up the older we get, there are things we can do to slow down ageing sight problems.
A healthy diet and a good eye-care routine make a huge difference. This means that with just a few tweaks to your lifestyle, you can slash your risk of sight loss and keep your eyes healthy for years to come.
Eat your carrots
Carrots could really help you see in the dark and improve your eyesight, thanks to the nutrient beta-carotene. In fact, choosing brightly-coloured foods in general could help protect your sight overall.
Choose kiwis, turnips, strawberries and oranges for eye-health boosting Vitamin C and pick dark, leafy greens such as kale and spinach to help your eyes filter out harmful blue light from the sun.
Eating more than three portions of veg a day and cutting out too much fat in your diet will help lower your risk of AMD by preventing the build-up of fatty deposits around your eyes. Don’t over-peel root vegetables either, as the nutrients are often just beneath the skin.
Clean out your make-up bag
If you’re still using the same mascara you bought years ago, throw it out! Make-up brushes, wands and pencils easily build up bacteria which, if it gets in your eye, can cause infections.
Replace your eye make-up at least every six months – more often if you regularly wear contact lenses. If your make-up starts to clump, change colour or smell a bit strange then that also means it needs to go in the bin. Avoid sharing make-up with friends for the same reasons.
Get checked regularly
Your eyes won’t necessarily hurt when there’s a problem so it’s important to see your optician for regular check-ups, even if they feel fine. An optometrist will check your eyes for any signs of a health problem, as well as deciding if you need glasses. Have an eye test every two years.
If you are prescribed glasses, get these from an optician rather than a cheap pair from the supermarket because they will last longer and are more likely to be the correct prescription for your sight.
Try a blueberry boost
Blueberries are a real superfood for our sight – so much so that in the Second World War many fighter pilots swore by their regular dose of blueberries for good night vision. But you don’t have to pile up on punnets of berries to get the benefits.
New Nordic’s Blue Berry™ Eyebright is a natural supplement containing blueberries and a 10mg daily dose of lutein, a pigment naturally found in your eyes. The Blue Berry™ Eyebright plus Mega Strength tablets also give you a boost of Vitamin A, zinc and copper, essential for healthy, bright eyes. Available from www.newnordic.co.uk
Be sensible in the sun
Your eyes are just as sensitive in bright sunlight as your skin, so be sure to pack sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat alongside your SPF on sunny days. Too much UV from the sun can make your eyes swollen and sore as well as increase your risk of cataracts.
Look for sunglasses with 100 per cent UV protection and buy a pair of prescription sunglasses if you usually wear specs.
Take a screen break
You might not get square eyes, but sitting in front of a screen too long can give you blurry vision, watery eyes and headaches. Whether you’re on the computer or tablet, or watching TV, try to force yourself to look away at something about 20 feet away in the distance for 20 seconds, at least once every half an hour.
Sit at least 50-60cm (20-24in) from your computer screen and keep it free from dirt and fingerprints to prevent squinting.
After a long session in front of a screen, take a walk or sit in the garden to let the daylight and air refresh your eyes.
Enjoy a fish supper
Cold-water fish, such as salmon, trout, sardines and tuna, are a great source of sight-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. Research suggests just one portion of fish a week could help cut your risk of AMD by as much as 40 per cent.
For something different to cod and chips, try zinc-packed oysters to help keep your retina healthy. They’re high in protein and low in calories, too!
- There's more health advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday