Do you remember that song from 1968 called “These Eyes” by the band The Guess Who? In the lyrics, the singer laments all the terrible things his eyes have seen and all the crying they’ve done over the years, with the main refrain being: “These eyes, are crying/These eyes have seen a lot of loves/But they’re never gonna see another one like I had with you.”
Article at a Glance
Vision Health After The Age Of 50
- Age naturally breaks down eyesight quality
- Modern technology also contributes to a reduction in vision quality
- Some nutrients can help your eyesight remain strong
Lutein & Zeaxanthin
- Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in the lens, retina, and macula of your eyes
- Both carotenoids could help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts
- The antioxidant properties of lutein and zeaxanthin help them scavenge free radicals
- Bilberries come from the same family of blueberries
- Anthocyanosides, a flavonoid antioxidant in bilberries, are key to protecting your retina
- Studies demonstrate the extract could support vision health in older adults
Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a compound involved in energy metabolism
- It’s also an antioxidant that can help to stave off vision loss and other age-related eye conditions
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, boasts anti-inflammatory effects that protect your eyes
- DHA is found in high concentrations in your retina, where it strengthens retinal integrity
- Low amounts of DHA in your diet could manifest in macular degeneration
Vitamins A, C, E
- Vitamin A could help you maintain a clear cornea
- Vitamin C’s antioxidant power could help block free radicals
- Vitamin E, also an antioxidant, could help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration
Practical Tips For Vision Health
- Eat foods that are good for your eyes
- Engage in full-body exercise
- Exercise and rest your eyes
- Avoid smoking
You probably relate to that sentiment. The older you get and the more you’ve seen, the more your eyes can become strained, weary, and weak. This is because your eyes are an organ controlled by muscles, and as such, they are susceptible to wear and tear just as other organs and muscles are. Even without constant bombardment from computer screens and smartphones, the quality of your vision would naturally deteriorate over time—and with those electronic factors, that deterioration could potentially become even more rapid and pronounced.
Indeed, computer, smartphone, and tablet screens present a bevy of risks to your vision health. In fact, the American Optometric Association (AOA) describes a certain group of eye and vision-related problems such as Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain, which are all related to the modern-day, eye-damaging phenomenon of “screen time.”
The eye is a complex organ composed of specific tissues that carry out different functions to maintain continuous visual responsiveness. Within your eyes, the main components are the cornea and lens in the front and the retina and retinal pigmented epithelium in the back. These various major players in your eyes all require certain nutrients in order to keep your vision clear well past the age of 50. Let’s take a look at some of these nutrients.
Lutein & Zeaxanthin For Vision Health
Found in the lens, retina, and macula of your eyes, lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoids that researchers have linked to eye health benefits. Various studies have shown that both can potentially reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
As you get older and oxidative stress takes more of a toll on the overall health of your eyes, the antioxidant properties of lutein and zeaxanthin get to work in scavenging the free radicals that love to cause damage to your cells, muscles and tissue. Your eyes are constantly being exposed to both oxygen and light, which in turn produce those pesky free radicals—these two carotenoids work to cancel out these free radicals, so they’re no longer able to damage the cells in your eyes. Meanwhile, lutein and zeaxanthin tend to work more effectively combating free radicals when paired with one another.
Part of the problem with oxidative stress in your eyes is that it could potentially lead to age-related macular degeneration, which is signaled by a reduction in the macular pigment of the eyes. Published research demonstrates that supplements containing lutein and zeaxanthin effectively improves the optical density of the macular pigment in the eyes of participants—and this is believed to offer protection against the development of age-related macular degeneration.
Bilberry Extract For Better Vision
Commonly known as European blueberries, while belonging to the same plant family as that fruit and boasting a similar nutritional profile, bilberries are a good source of hydration, antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. And along with all of the known benefits of those nutrients, and others commonly associated with berries in general, bilberries have gained some attention for their ability to possibly improve vision.
The key to the vision-protecting prowess of these potent little berries might be anthocyanosides, which are a kind of powerful flavonoid antioxidant responsible for the red, purple, and blue colors in fruits and vegetables. Anthocyanosides could potentially help protect the retina—and for that reason bilberry has been suggested as a treatment for retinal damage—while bilberries may also protect against macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts.
According to a study on individuals with glaucoma, a condition that leads to a gradual loss of sight, bilberry anthocyanosides improved daily visual function as compared to participants in a placebo group.
Meanwhile, another study found that bilberry extract could help to reduce eye dryness, while yet another study demonstrated that bilberry supplementation could potentially improve eye fatigue for those with putting in too much screen time.
Alpha Lipoic Acid To Improve Your Eyesight
Another nutrient that falls under the “powerful antioxidant” category, Alpha Lipoic Acid is present in every cell inside your body, and is also found in animal proteins, along with some fruits and veggies. In your body, Alpha Lipoic Acid helps to convert glucose into the fuel your body needs to accomplish various functions—as such, Alpha Lipoic Acid is a mitochondrial compound that is highly involved in energy metabolism.
The negative effects of oxidative stress can be manifested in your eyes in damaged nerves and various vision problems, especially when you get older. For its part, Alpha Lipoic Acid works its antioxidant magic to control symptoms including vision loss, age-related macular degeneration, retina damage, cataracts, and glaucoma. With macular degeneration specifically, one study from 2016 demonstrates that Alpha Lipoic Acid could potentially improve vision-related quality of life for those with age-related macular degeneration by increasing antioxidant activity.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids For Vision Health
The perceived universal usefulness of omega-3 fatty acids is no fish tale—those healthy fats are in the middle of nearly every conversation concerning your well-being for a reason. And mainly, that reason has everything to do with their anti-inflammatory effects, which makes them ideal in protecting big picture systems like cardiovascular and neurological.
But more than a healthy way to support your brain and heart, omega-3 fatty acids are also incredibly important to your eye health, particularly the fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is found in its highest concentration in your retina. In your retina, DHA optimizes the fluidity of photoreceptor membranes. More simply put, it strengthens retinal integrity and supports the overall function of vision.
When you don’t get enough DHA in your diet, it could spell trouble for your vision as the fatty acid could act as an anti-inflammatory, playing a protective role in age-related conditions of the eye’s vascular system and retina. Studies show that getting enough omega-3 could be linked to a reduced risk of macular degeneration, which is the most common cause of permanent eye damage.
How Eyesight Is Supported By Vitamins A, C, E
And finally, vitamins are intimately involved in how well you see the world as you get older—but specifically, vitamins A, C, and E are aces for vision health.
For starters, vitamin A is a vital player in maintaining a clear cornea, the outside layer covering your eye. Your eyes have a protein within them called rhodopsin, which helps you see in low light conditions, which means that vitamin A the normal functioning of different membranes in your eyes.
Meanwhile, vitamin A deficiency—though rare in developed countries—could lead to a rather debilitating eye condition known as xerophthalmia, an abnormal dryness of the cornea that can lead to inflammation. But in a more common application, studies demonstrate that a diet high in vitamin A could potentially help to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
As for vitamin C, it’s a powerful antioxidant that could help to block free radicals from damaging your eyes. Additionally, vitamin C is one of the major components in the production of collagen, which is a protein that provides structure to your eyes’ cornea and sclera.
In studies, vitamin C has also been shown to lower the risk of certain age-related eye conditions—with one study demonstrating a 75 percent reduced risk of cataracts and another study showing a 45 percent lower chance of developing the condition.
Like vitamin C, vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that is associated with preventing incidents of oxidative stress within your body, including your eyes. In one extensive study, close to 4,000 people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) were given vitamin E in addition to other nutrients—those participants saw a 25 percent reduced risk in progressing to the advanced stages of AMD.
Other studies suggest that vitamin E might help to address age-related cataracts, though more studies are needed in this regard.
Practical Tips To Maintaining Your Vision Health After The Age Of 50
The adverse effects of environmental, societal, and biological adversaries on your vision is plain to see, but what might not be so obvious are the practical steps you can take to ensure better eyesight into your later years. Let’s take a look at a few of those tips.
Eat With Your Eyes:
As this article has shown, there are numerous nutrients that can help your vision stay in tip-top shape. Adding antioxidant-rich foods with plenty of vitamins A, C, and E is a good place to start—this means plenty of leafy green vegetables, along with carrots, various fruits, nuts, sweet potatoes, and more. Meanwhile, cold water fish such as mackerel, wild salmon, and cod are rich in DHA, a fatty acid that strengthens cell membranes, including those in your eyes.
See Results From Exercise:
The increased blood flow that comes with full-body exercise can be beneficial to your eyesight, as keeping the blood pumping through the small blood vessels in your eyes can help to remove impurities. And we’re not talking about back-breaking, strenuous exercise—a simple brisk walk every day can be enough to help your eyes stay on track.
Eye Exercise & Rest:
Guess what? Your eyes have muscles and thus, could use some exercise in order to stay in good shape. Try rolling your eyes in circles to get them ready for the day. Also, to sharpen your focus, try holding an object at arm’s length and focus on it—and maintain that focus as you move the object closer to your eyes. As for resting, try the 20-20-20 rule—every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This is especially helpful for those that find themselves glued to a computer screen for multiple hours a day.
Quit Smoking Already:
This seems to come up with every health discussion—smoking is incredibly bad for you and contributes to multiple health problems. In eyesight, smoking can increase your chances of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Smoking also decimates your antioxidant levels, which as we’ve learned are important to overall vision health.
See Clearly, At Any Age
Modern technology notwithstanding, there’s plenty you can do to keep your eyes as healthy as possible as your age progresses. And much like other health regimens, it takes commitment, discipline, and a touch of education. So, pull the wool from your eyes and clear the path to vision health.