Provide Eye-Protection for Independent Living

Eye-protection is necessary to preserve our sight and should be a priority for each of us. Maintaining an independent retirement lifestyle would be a lot more difficult without our sight. We only have one pair of eyes that work as a team a lot better than they do alone.

Eye-protection from injury, exposure to harmful sunlight, and poor nutrition are all within our power to provide. Protective eye glasses and proper nutrition can prevent or slow the progression of damage to our eyes.

Eating foods rich in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin protects against free radical damage and offers some protection against ultraviolet rays in sunlight. These antioxidants are found in foods such as kale, spinach, green peas, watermelon and summer squash. Vitamins C, E, B complex and alpha lipoic acid increase the vitality of your eyes. Omega 3 oils, zinc and selenium are also essential for eye health. Basically, our nutritional eye-protection measures are the same as those for our brain.

Remember to consult with your physician before starting any nutritional supplementation program. Nutritional supplements do not cure or prevent illness and disease.  They only give the body the extra nutrition it needs to take care of itself!  A healthy lifestyle starts with good nutrition.

The ultraviolet rays (UV) in sunlight can cause cataracts, and damage the retina. Ultraviolet radiation is undetectable by the human eye. Blue light (HEV) is linked to macular degeneration. Protecting our eyes from the damaging effect of sunlight is important at any age but becomes even more so as we age. While the damaging effects of UV and HEV are cumulative and can’t be repaired, further damage can be prevented with the use of protective lenses and good nutrition. Protection for your eyes is also needed for safety from injuries in the home or outdoor recreational or sport activities.

Select sunglasses with lenses designed to provide UV blockers rated by the American National Standards Institute. Polarized sunglasses have an added protective layer that helps block the glare of light off snow and water. Select general purpose, safety approved, and impact resistant sunglasses that are also 100% UV protective. Sunglasses labeled as “cosmetic” will probably not be an effective sun blocker. Wide brimmed hats and long-sleeved loose fitting shirts or blouses are also effective in protecting us from the suns rays.

As we age the pupil reacts more slowly to sunlight. This makes the selection of lens color more important. A dark grey lens will likely be too dark since the pupil stays small. Brown or green lens might be a better selection for older people. Sunglasses with a wrap around lens will offer more protection from the sun. The lens should be large enough to cover the eyes and skin surrounding the eyes to help prevent skin cancer. Skin cancer of the area around the eye is fairly common. 

Don’t forget about sunglasses for your grandchildren. Children are more active and spend a great deal of time outdoors resulting in greater exposure to sunlight. According to several studies, the average child receives about three times the annual UV dose of the average adult and up to 80% of lifetime exposure before the age of 20.

For references and suggested reading:

  • "eye disease." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011.
  • Go to retirement resources.

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