As we age, we tend to focus on wrinkles and gray hairs, or listen more carefully to creaky joints and tired muscles. Eye health is often something we think about only if there's a noticeable change: the fine print is fuzzy or road signs are harder to see. Many people, even those with a history of 20/20 eyesight, experience changes in their vision or find they need corrective lenses once they enter their 30s and 40s.
However, for a growing number of Americans, a more serious eye condition can set in, and you may not even know about. Glaucoma, a condition where elevated eye pressure affects the optic nerve and then leads to changes in vision or blindness, affects 2.2 million Americans, according to The Glaucoma Research Foundation, but only 50 percent are aware of their condition. This is because glaucoma doesn't always cause pain. Early prevention is key to managing glaucoma, as well as a host of other eye-related illnesses. In observance of National Glaucoma Awareness Month, we have four tips for keeping your eyes on the prize.
Regular Eye Tests: Your age, vision, and risk factors help to determine how often you need to have an eye exam. The Glaucoma Research Foundation outlines the recommended testing frequency: Younger than 40, get tested every two to four years; age 40 to 54, get tested every one to three years. Eye tests are critical to early detection and prevention of eye diseases. And, if you're suffering from headaches, eye fatigue, or blurry vision, an appointment with an ophthalmologist can help you see and feel better.
Protect Your Peepers: The UV rays from sunlight can have a damaging effect on your eyes. American Optometric Association says that UV exposure can cause an eye "sunburn" called photokeratitis, and prolonged exposure can lead to cataracts or macular degeneration. Protect your peepers with sunglasses that, as the AOA recommends on its Website, block out 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UVB rays, and screen out at least 75 percent of visible light.
Carrots and Citrus: Antioxidant-rich foods are known to promote eye health. Many veggies (carrots, peppers, squash, etc.) are full of beta-carotene, while berries and citrus fruits pack in the Vitamin A, according to an article in Health.com
Add Astaxanthin: Astaxanthin comes from algae. It is a naturally occurring cartenoid, which are known to be antioxidants. Astaxanthin has been proven to stop cell- damaging free radicals in the eyes and central nervous system. Adding Astaxanthin and other supplements to your diet - such as Lutein , Eyeguard , and Bilberry - can help to promote eye health.