At breakfast I told a friend how sad I will be if (or when) my 19-year-old son fully loses his vision. He has Retinitis pigmentosa (RP), which refers to a group of inherited diseases causing retinal degeneration. People with RP experience a gradual decline in their vision because photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) die. At present, my kid is blind in the dark or low lighting, and has trouble locating things on the floor.
(no pics of him are in this post, as he doesn’t prefer it)
As my side of the family is the side with terrible vision, I assume I’m the parent who passed this along to him. I could write about my desire to take his suffering onto myself, or the times I’ve cried for all he’s gone through (and the things he’s missed), or my huge fear of him one day sitting at home, alone in the dark. But that doesn’t help him or anyone else with vision issues. Luckily, I expect a cure to be found in his lifetime, as scientists are getting closer and closer to finding a way to get energy to the dying photoreceptors.It's easier than you might think to help protect your vision as you age. #FitFluential… Click To Tweet
I’m not a scientist, so I cannot hurry along the research, but I AM an expert in health and exercise, so am constantly on the lookout for links between lifestyle and eye health improvements. A few months ago, via the PR rep from Visionworks, I sent along some questions to Dr. Robert Pretli, their Director of Professional Services. As this blog is geared toward Boomer women, I asked questions that would be helpful to my son AND to those of us who are on the right side of 50. In the spirit of a mom who wants to live long enough to SEE her son SEE, I offer these eye health suggestions from Dr. Pretli to help you with your long term vision.
- Healthy eating, nutrition and exercise are all factors that benefit eye health. Poor diet, smoking and lack of exercise are risk factors for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
- According to the American Diabetes Association, the leading cause of blindness in working-age Americans is diabetes. Healthy habits, including annual eye exams, are essential in preserving your sight
- A diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids such as green leafy vegetables and fish have been known to help prevent AMD
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule: take a 20 second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes. This helps avoid the headaches, fatigue, dry eyes and blurred vision that come with staring at a computer for prolonged periods of time
- Wear polarized sunglasses when in the sun to help protect your eyelids and tissues around the eyes from the sun’s damaging rays
- Two-thirds of blindness and other visual impairments worldwide occur in women. In addition to annual eye exams, we should also be careful about our eye makeup use, especially those of us who wear contact lenses.
That last one motivates the heck out of me, as I wear both makeup and contacts. Now, if only I could figure out a way to convince my son to wear his prescription sunglasses.
Alexandra Williams, MA
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