By Dr. Steven A. Nielsen
Summer is here with its sights, sounds and smells that make it the season of leisure, vacation and relaxation.
But with summer comes the responsibility of taking good care of our eyes. As we grow older, our vision begins to weaken, which can affect our lifestyles and decrease our independence. While we can’t prevent the aging process, we can slow age-related damage by taking the following measures:
•Continue to have regular eye exams. Being consistent with this practice not only ensures the health of the eyes, but should any abnormalities be discovered, early detection of age–related eye conditions — such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration — will provide the opportunity for a better outcome.
•Wear sunglasses that have quality ultraviolet (UV) filters. UV rays can contribute to cataracts and possibly accelerate macular degeneration. The long days of summer expose the eyes to more direct sunlight. Wearing sunglasses with UV filters will also prevent burned corneas. Sunglasses with gray lenses allow objects to be seen in their most natural color.
•Wear a hat with a brim, especially during extended periods of outdoor activity. Not only do hats shade the eyes, but they also protect the eyelids and the skin surrounding the eyes from developing melanoma.
•Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Enjoy summer’s bounty. Yellow, orange and dark green vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals essential for eye and body health. Treat yourself to a refreshing smoothie made with strawberries and blueberries. Or enjoy a spinach salad.
•Wear protective eyewear. Many outdoor summer activities include yard care, home improvement projects, swimming and spending time at the beach. Protect your eyes by wearing either safety goggles or swim goggles. Sport goggles are also essential when playing racquetball or squash.
•Remove contact lenses when eye fatigue sets in. Give your eyes the opportunity to breathe. Rinsing your lenses removes unwanted, often microscopic debris that can cause infection and discomfort. Swimming with contact lenses is not recommended, as chemicals and/or salt will rest under the lenses.
No matter the season, being proactive in caring for your eyes will lead to years of enjoying all the beauty of the earth. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Dr. Steven A. Nielsen is the chief ophthalmologist at The Nielsen Eye Center. To schedule a consultation or examination with Dr. Nielsen, call 617-401-8542 daily between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Archives of articles from previous issues can be read at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com