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Eye Health Over 50: Take These Steps Now

Over 50, taking care of our eye health is more important than ever. Here are our tips for preventing macular degeneration.

You need to take care of your eyes at any age, but over 50 it becomes more front and center, as you are probably at the least starting to wear reading classes. Like everything here at AGEIST, we believe in testing and tracking. In this case, it means going to a good optometrist or ophthalmologist. Opticians are people who fill prescriptions for lenses and will sell glasses, whereas an optometrist will test and evaluate your eye health, and an ophthalmologist is an MD who you would see for a disease of the eye. Confusing, I know.

There are a few things you will want tested. Obviously your vision, and if you need corrective lenses — glasses or contacts. You will also be tested for glaucoma. All of you over 50 who have been having your eyes tested probably remember the old puff test — horrible, and I still have PTSD about it every time I get my eyes checked. The new glaucoma tests are nothing like that, and you will hardly notice it is happening. So get one of these.

The big one that you may not be looking into and, now that your are over 50, you should, is a retinal scan. These tend to be an additional cost, and if your optometrist doesn’t have the machine, look for another who does. The machine looks at the back of your eye, and can tell you if you are beginning to develop macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness today. If there is some evidence of degeneration, and you get this scan yearly, you will be able to track it year after year to make interventions if needed.

Retinal scanner

Preventing Macular Degeneration

What can you do to prevent macular degeneration? Several things help. First, always always wear good UVA/UVB sunglasses outside, sunny days or not. You want to protect the back of your eyes the same way you protect your skin. Second, there is evidence that certain nutrients can help with eye health: lutein and zeaxanthin. You can take a supplement or you can eat bell pepper, leafy greens, and egg yolks to get these nutrients. Lastly, there is evidence that HEB, high energy blue light, may be a factor also. Most all sunglasses which block UV don’t also block HEB. We interviewed a scientist at a major manufacturer, who will remain nameless, who told us about this loophole in the ratings so that sunglasses can claim broad UV protection. HEB is in the 390-500 mm parts of the spectrum, just above the level agreed upon for UV.  The one brand we know of, and there may be others, that handles this is Vuarnet. They use mineral glass lenses which also block the IR, heat part of the spectrum. Yummy when it is a blistering hot day.

I just had my yearly eye health checkup, and was surprised by a couple of things. My distance vision has gone from 20/40 to 20/25 while my reading vision has stayed the same. Weird, but I’ll take it. In other words, I don’t need glasses now except to read. I am not sure if it is my diet, my supplements, my exercise or just that an eye is a very malleable thing and it has shifted shape so I can see better. My retinal scan was even stranger.

About 7 years ago at age 56 my retinal scan was showing some evidence of macular degeneration, which really got my attention. This last week, at age 63, all that degeneration is not showing. How did that happen? According to my eye doc, “Whatever you are doing, keep doing it.” In other words, he has no idea, but this is a very good development.

David’s retina scan

Supplements and Sunglasses

This is what I started doing 7 years ago:

1.Adding a retinal scan to my yearly eye check up.
2. Daily supplement of lutein and zeaxanthin.
3. Now that I mostly live at 7,000 ft, where UV and HEB is like being in a microwave, I always wear sunglasses, and usually Vuarnet glacier glasses. See eBay for some good ones at a good
4. On my regular glasses I had an HEB coating applied. Mine is called Crizal, but there are others. There is a slight yellow tint to things, which unless I am doing color correcting on images, I don’t notice.
5. I take 1500 mg daily of DHA, which is the fat the brain is mostly made of, and since the eye is more or less part of the brain, it seemed like a good idea.
6. I take Basis every day along with a number other supplements. 

Which of any of these, or anything else, is causing my eye health to improve is anyone’s guess. Or maybe this is just a normal. My mom had macular degeneration and could barely see towards the end of her life — most certainly something I will do everything I can to avoid.

Big thanks to Hoff Optometry in Venice, CA for looking after the health of my eyes these last years.

See medical disclaimer below. ↓

3 COMMENTS

  1. Hi David – I really enjoy your articles – thank you! Wondering if you could share which supplement you use (the one with lutein and zeaxanthin) to help prevent/postpone macular degeneration. The link above takes us to supplement page for memory loss. Thanks so much. Gillian

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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.

 

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