Loss of vision is one of the most feared consequences of aging (Rosenberg 2008; AFB 2007). As of 2010, an estimated 1.28 million US adults over age 40 were blind and another 2.9 million had very poor vision; about 10% to 20% of adults aged 80 and older had poor vision. Common causes of blindness in adults include macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy (NEI 2014; Congdon 2004).
Adults with poor vision are at a significantly higher risk for many social and health problems including depression, social withdrawal, and self-administered medication errors (Casten 2013; Rosenberg 2008; Rowe 2004; Campbell 2005; Field 2007). Elderly adults with low vision enter nursing homes about 3 years earlier and have twice the risk of falls compared to adults with adequate vision (Eichenbaum 2012). Poor vision can also limit freedom to drive; adults with impaired vision often must avoid driving at night, over long distances, or in unfamiliar conditions (Sengupta 2013). Vision loss can significantly impact quality of life and ability to function independently (CDC 2014; IFA 2014).
Fortunately, scientifically-studied integrative interventions and simple lifestyle measures can prevent, slow the development of, or even partially reverse many common eye diseases associated with aging. Nutrient interventions such as omega-3 fatty acids; carotenoids; vitamins A, B-complex, and E; and coenzyme Q10 (Chew 2013; Christen 2009; Christen 2008; Feher 2005; Weikel 2012) have been shown to support eye health with aging. In addition, lifestyle interventions such as exercise (Munch 2013), avoiding smoking (Velilla 2013), and limiting intake of refined sugars (Tan 2007) have been demonstrated to significantly reduce the risk of several types of age-associated eye disease.
This protocol focuses primarily on preventive measures aimed at maintaining generally healthy vision with aging. For more comprehensive discussions on prevention and treatment options tailored to specific eye diseases, see the protocols on Macular Degeneration, Retinopathy, Glaucoma, or Cataracts.