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4 ways to protect your eyes as you age

In 2012, actress Dame Judi Dench told the press that her eyesight was failing and she was unable to read her scripts.

Her solution? Her daughter and agent would help her learn her lines. Dame Judy, now in her mid-80s, had been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, a common eye disorder that can cause blindness. By 2020, it’s estimated that around 3 million older Americans will have to contend with this condition.

But macular degeneration isn’t the only vision problem that can develop as you get older: The most common are glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts.

More than 6 million Americans over age 65 have some type of vision problem. That’s why it’s important to take steps at every age to protect your eyes.

Here are a few:

>> Eye-friendly foods are rich in nutrients such as beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids and zinc. So eat plenty of orange vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots and squash, plus cooked tomatoes. Opt for dark leafy greens, berries, nuts and seeds, brown rice and citrus, which also are high in vitamins A, C, D and E. And enjoy fatty fish like ocean trout and salmon.

>> Quit smoking or never start. It’s linked to an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and optic nerve damage.

>> Use sunglasses. Find ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation.

>> Don’t do digital damage! Break up computer and screen time. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes look about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to youdocsdaily@sharecare.com.

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