Can a Man Prevent Failing Vision in Midlife

Eyes, if neglected, can sometimes give us more problems than just that of waning sight.Like most things related to health, prevention is better than cure, if indeed there is a cure for the ailment in question. Our eyes are no different.

Failing EyesightIf a middle-aged man is to prevent or slowdown the loss of vision as he ages, the best thing he can do is to make sure he gets his eyes tested annually.

How Eye checkups help prevent problems?

Timely treatment can prevent the progression of diseases that can cause blindness, in extreme cases, when the eyes are neglected for too long.

Simple changes in lifestyle, diet, and nutritional supplemental routines, can make major differences in reducing risks of specific eye disorders.

Preventing Cataracts

Cataracts are cloudy proteins in the lens of the eye. Usually a cataract is the result of decades of exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Wearing sunglasses is not necessarily the answer for preventing cataracts, unless they are specially treated to prevent the passage of UV light.

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Do Sunglasses Help?

Sunglasses that don’t include UV protection (Ultraviolet), can actually make some eye problems – that are related to sun exposure – worse, since the pupils open more widely when the eyes are exposed to low levels of light.

What about Diet?

The micronutrients lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin help prevent the formation of cataracts. You can get these antioxidants by eating kale, spinach, sweet corn, and tomatoes on a regular basis, or by taking an eye health supplement.

One clinical trial found that men who took bilberry extracts experienced slower progression of cataracts once they’d begun to form. A combination of bilberry and low-dose vitamin E (just 100 IU /day) stopped progression of cataracts in 24 out of 25 men taking the combination.

Does Alcohol Consumption Increase the Risk of Cataracts?

Yes and no, is the answer to that. Alcohol consumption affects the risk of cataracts when drunk to excess over a number of years. Those men who never drink alcohol and men who drink more than the recommended 3 to 4 *units of alcohol a day, have approximately twice the risk of cataracts than those who consume just 1 alcoholic unit per day.

* A unit of alcohol is measured as 10ml or 8g of unadulterated alcohol. This equates to one 25ml single shot of whisky (ABV (Alcohol by volume) 40%), or a third of a pint of normal strength beer (ABV 5-6%). And for wine drinkers, a unit is equal to half a standard glass (that’s 175ml) of red wine (ABV 12%).

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Preventing Glaucoma Glaucoma shrinks the field of vision from the inside out. Men who leave glaucoma untreated over a period of years develop tunnel vision, and in some cases, may eventually be left sightless.

Nutrients that may help

Certain nutrients have special protective or restorative value in glaucoma. A clinical trial found that taking just 120 mg of magnesium per day improves peripheral vision in men who already have glaucoma. Taking additional vitamin B1 (thiamin) does not lower eye pressure, but it seems to help protect the optic nerve, which is damaged by high pressure inside the eye.

Magnesium and vitamin B1 are available for just pennies per day and most patients show no adverse side effects.

Nutrients that may harm

There are nutritional supplements, however, that men who have glaucoma should avoid. Vanadium supplements can raise eye pressure. And although some men have obtained remarkable improvements in glaucoma after taking massive doses of vitamin C, up to 35 thousand milligrams per day, the potential for serious digestive problems is so great that you should not take mega doses of vitamin C for glaucoma except under the supervision of a medically certified ophthalmologist who has experience in vitamin therapy.

Occasionally glaucoma sufferers get some relief from taking just 2,000 mg of vitamin C per day, but the effect is not great enough to allow you to stop taking your medication.

Preventing Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a condition that destroys the macula in the center of the eye. Men who have macular degeneration retain the ability to see around the edges of their field of vision, at least at first, but cannot see what is directly in front of them.

Prevention through Diet

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which tracked the effects of diet on eye health in the United States, found that men (and women) who eat spinach and collard greens on a regular basis are significantly less likely to develop macular degeneration.

Another study conducted in the USA, the Beaver Dam Eye Study, which followed the health of over 2000 men and women aged 43 to 84, showed that foods that contains beta-carotene such as carrots, apricots, winter squash, and kale on a regular basis (at least one serving 3 to 5 times a week) also were less likely to develop macular degeneration.

Once macular degeneration has started, taking vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, selenium, and bilberry extracts can slow down the progress of the disease.

Preventing Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition in which blood vessels in the retina in the back of the eye become twisted and break. A leak in one of these blood vessels can lead to the death of a tiny spot in the retina which creates a blind spot. Laser surgery to repair the leak in a blood vessel in the retina also creates a blind spot.

The best thing middle-aged men, and older, can do to prevent diabetic retinopathy is to keep both blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels in good control. It is even possible to reverse this kind of retinopathy in its early stages if both diabetes and blood pressure are controlled for as little as a year.

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ARTICLE WRITTEN BY ROBERT RISTER | 50ish Site Contributor
Robert Rister is a senior health writer here at 50ish.org

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