Healthy Living Across the Lifespan – Part 1

We all have heard the phrase aging gracefully but what does that really mean? September is Healthy Aging month and we have scoured the internet to find out how to live in a healthy, graceful manner no matter your age!

It was not surprising that most of the results from our search were very similar. We have compiled the tips here, in a 2-part series for our readers, along with how these tips play a role in healthy vision.

Be Active/Stay Active. Regular physical activity may help prevent or provide relief from health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression and arthritis to name a few. Many eye conditions are related to heart disease, blood pressure and cholesterol issues and diabetes. Being active can help you maintain body weight, lower blood pressure and increase overall bone/muscle strength. Pick physical activities you enjoy and always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

Eat a Healthy Diet. It seems like talk about diet is everywhere these days. Food consumption that is rich in nutrient-dense foods/whole foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains are preferable to consumption of processed foods which have high sodium and sugar contents.

The consumption of colorful fruits and vegetables can have beneficial effects on vision. Dark green leafy veggies are rich in antioxidants which help protect against oxidizing agents (free radicals). Free radicals can play a role in age-related vision issues. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and who doesn’t love citrus fruit! Lutein and zeaxanthin are examples of carotenoids which also help protect the retina against free radicals. Spinach and kale are great sources of carotenoids as are peas, sweet corn and broccoli.  Orange and yellow veggies are good natural sources of Vitamin A which is also key for healthy vision. Always consult your doctor when making changes in your diet.

Brain maintenance. Here is a sobering statistic: 1 in 8 American adults has a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Help keep your brain in tip-top shape by stimulating it and continuing to learn across the lifespan. Whether you are taking music or tennis lessons, attending lectures, playing music, or reading – just keep learning!

But what is the connection between your brain and your eyes? Would it surprise you to know that the optic nerve and the retina are specialized brain cells?! And the lutein and zeaxanthin that protect your vision against free radicals…they also help enhance brain or cognitive function by improving blood flow in the brain. Another brain-eye connection is discussed here in this article from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Nurture relationships and community connections. Staying connected to family and friends is key to a healthy lifestyle. Spending time with the people you love and enjoy can promote feelings of happiness and well-being, which may help decrease stress, bolster the immune system and decrease stress hormones which cause inflammation linked to arthritis and diabetes. Are you seeing the positive affects this could also have on your vision? Diabetes and heart/blood pressure related issues can affect the blood vessel of the retina and lead to changes in vision. Ways to stay connected include schedule regular get-togethers; volunteer; join a club; play cards; and reach out to those around you who may be lonely or isolated.

Next week, we will continue with Part 2 of the series outlining healthy tips for living and aging gracefully.

If you have noticed changes in your vision, or it has been more than a year since your last eye exam, call 919-282-1100 or visit to schedule your appointment. Life is beautiful, see it clearly!