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Healthy eyes

It’s no good being in the dark about failing eyesight, so one of the most important things you can do as you age is to get regular eye tests.

We often think we only need an eye test to get our glasses updated, but optometrists do so much more than check our vision: they review the health of our eyes.

An optometrist can pick up eye diseases like glaucoma and cataracts. The eyes are also the window to other diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes.

And, of course, you should have an eye test if you feel there have been sudden changes to your vision. Good eyesight is a key factor in avoiding falls and injuries as we age.

There are a number of things we can do to keep eyes healthy, including simple things like wearing sunglasses. Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement; they can protect your eyes from strong sunlight and harmful UV rays, so check that you buy the right lenses.

You mightn’t think you can do an eye workout, but general exercise helps circulation which, in turn, helps keep your eyes healthy.

Sleep well. As we sleep, our eyes lubricate themselves and heal themselves, clearing out the dirt and dust that may have accumulated during the day.

Eat well too. It may be a fallacy that carrots are good for your eyes, but a diet with plenty of vegetables can help you keep your eyes in good condition. And keeping a healthy weight helps stave off diabetes, which can cause problems with your vision.

There are some specific things to watch for as you age. Conditions like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), for example, which is the major cause of vision loss in Australia. This is a common eye disease that can be managed if picked up quickly – another reason for regular eye checks.

Other issues are the general weakness of our eye muscles that starts at about the age of 45, glaucoma and floaters – small specks that appear to float across your vision.

Remember keeping your eyes healthy in your retirement years can help you be independent for longer.