Nearly half of Americans don’t realize their eyesight is changing due to how the brain adapts. Luckily, new science-backed tips can keep your eyes sharp and help save your vision as you age.
Do this before you bathe.
One simple trick to save your vision as you age: Take out contact lenses before you wash your face or shower. Why? Microscopic amoeba called acanthamoeba can live in tap water and can become trapped and breed beneath contacts, damaging corneas in the process, explains James Stringham, PhD, a research scientist at Duke Eye Center’s Visual Performance Lab.
Indeed, a recent study found cases of inflamed cornea (or acanthamoeba keratitis) have increased by 300 percent, yet almost all can be prevented by keeping water away from contacts.
Make an appointment.
New university research finds that 60 percent of folks over 70 are wearing the wrong prescription — and many don’t even know it. “Many of the eye’s structures change with age,” says Stringham.
“So regular eye exams are absolutely crucial for detecting changes that underlie any vision loss — and earlier detection is always better. In fact, after your 50th birthday, you should visit the eye doctor once per year.”
Doing so gives your ophthalmologist optimal time to correct creeping vision loss you may not even notice before it can cause serious problems. Pro tip: Set your email account to send you a yearly reminder to schedule an appointment.
Sweet news! A recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that participants who ate a bar of chocolate had better “contrast” vision within two hours. “Specific polyphenols in dark chocolate have very strong, beneficial effects on the thousands of tiny blood vessels that deliver the nutrients and oxygen the retina needs to function”, explains Stringham. Tip: Choose dark chocolate with 72 percent cocoa.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.