Good eyesight into old age – preventive measures for healthy eyes.

18. December 2023 from Kea Blum
Eye health. Good eyesight into old age. Effects of blue light?

Your eyesight changes over the course of your life. Some people notice the first deterioration at a young age. From around the age of 40, natural presbyopia sets in. However, it is not always the cause of diminishing eyesight. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of visual problems in old age. There are risk factors that favour its development. We show what these are and how everyone can take countermeasures. We also explain how (too much) blue light at a young age can affect eye health.

How blue light affects the eyes

Children and young people today grow up with smartphones, tablets and the like as a matter of course. The problem: children's young lenses are still very clear. It can barely protect the photoreceptors of the retina from the blue light of the displays. The photoreceptors are responsible for colour perception and are located in the macula. This is the part of the eye responsible for sharp vision.

The earlier and more intensively the eyes are exposed to blue light, the higher the risk of light-induced damage can be - above all age-related macular degeneration, a typical eye disease in old age.

An experimental study1 has shown that blue light leads to so-called photooxidative stress. This produces oxygen radicals that can damage proteins and fats in the photoreceptors. The damage is not reversible. Once photoreceptors have died, they cannot be brought back to life. However, it is not yet possible to say how much blue light is harmful. Research into this is still in its infancy.

When eyesight deteriorates with age

With increasing age, the eye deteriorates more and more. Most people start to develop presbyopia between the ages of 40 and 45 at the latest. Vision deteriorates and many people need glasses for reading or driving at dusk or at night.

The risk of typical eye diseases also increases with age. In addition to cataracts and glaucoma, these include age-related macular degeneration in particular. It is the most common eye disease in old age. In order for us to see clearly, the macula needs energy. Various metabolic end products are produced in the retina, such as free radicals. Normally, the cells dispose of them. With increasing age, however, this degradation is impaired. Free radicals accumulate and gradually destroy important parts of the retina. As a result, vision deteriorates more and more.

Prevention begins in adolescence

We cannot stop ageing. But there are risk factors that can be influenced and avoided - at any age.

The earlier we start with prevention, the easier it is to avoid eye damage. This starts in childhood and adolescence. Parents have a role to play here. For children and young people, tablets, smartphones and the like are part of everyday life. Severely restricting or even banning their use is therefore not the right approach. It is much more important to establish a conscious approach.

  • Regular breaks from screens or smartphones are good for the eyes. Children and young people should spend a lot of time outdoors to compensate. The view into the distance and daylight are valuable for the development of the eyes.
  • The right lighting is also important. Warm white LED light is better for the eyes.
  • Special blue light filters can also help. Many smartphones and tablets already have these integrated and only need to be activated.
  • Sufficient ambient lighting is also good for the eyes. Parents should always make sure that there is another light source in addition to the screen or smartphone.

A healthy lifestyle promotes eye health in old age

Regular breaks from screens and smartphones - this is also important in adulthood. Lifestyle also plays an important role in maintaining good eyesight into old age. Smoking is considered a major risk factor for age-related macular degeneration. This is because it has a negative effect on blood circulation. As a result, the visual cells are not supplied with sufficient oxygen and nutrients. According to a study2 from the UK, smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration by up to 32 per cent. Diet also plays a decisive role (more on this in the next section).

Another aspect is the topic of preventive eye examinations. The first is advisable from around your mid-40s, when presbyopia begins. Distorted vision in particular can indicate the onset of age-related macular degeneration. An ophthalmologist should be consulted by then at the latest.

Important vital substances for healthy eyes

A good supply of vital substances supports the health and function of the eyes - at any age. The basis for this is a varied diet with plenty of plant-based foods. Fruit, vegetables, wholemeal products, nuts and vegetable oils are important sources of vitamins, minerals, secondary plant substances such as carotenoids and healthy fats.

  • Vitamin A, B2, zinc and DHA contribute to the maintenance of normal vision. DHA is a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid.
  • Vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and zinc help to protect the cells from oxidative stress. It damages the cells and can favour age-related macular degeneration.
  • Spinach, broccoli and kale in particular are also rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. They have been shown to play an important role in macular health.

The plus in vital substances

The fresher the fruit and vegetables are, the more vital nutrients they contain. And this is often a sticking point: especially if the food comes from abroad, there are often several days between harvesting and consumption. Contact with light and oxygen reduces the content of vital substances. How well the body is supplied with vital nutrients also depends on many other factors. For example, age, previous illnesses, physical strain and eating habits in general. Special dietary supplements can contribute to a good supply of these vital substances, which are so valuable for the eyes.


There are many factors that can have a negative impact on eyesight. Prevention begins in childhood and adolescence. There is scientific evidence that the blue light from smartphones, tablets and the like can damage photoreceptors. A conscious approach to digital media is therefore already of great importance for eye health in childhood and adolescence.

It is quite normal for eyesight to deteriorate with age. However, everyone can help to maintain good eyesight for as long as possible. Even in adulthood, regular breaks from digital media are important for the eyes. Like all other organs, the eyes also benefit from a nutritious diet. We have presented vital substances that are important for eyesight - and explained why special dietary supplements can also benefit eyesight.

Tips for prevention in childhood and adolescence

  • Regular breaks from screens relaxes the eyes.
  • Spend a lot of time outdoors to compensate. The view into the distance and daylight are valuable for the development of the eyes.
  • Make sure you have the right lighting - warm white LED light is better.
  • Use special blue light filters (usually pre-installed on devices, only need to be activated).
  • Sufficient ambient lighting is good for the eyes - make sure there is another light source next to the screen or smartphone.

Kea Blum

I am a freelance journalist and editor from Hamburg. By my side is my Australian Shepherd girl Maja and my husband. After my studies in ecotrophology and a PR and editorial traineeship, I started my own business. For more than four years, I have been looking after clients in the fields of nutrition and health. I still find it fascinating how much what we eat can affect our health. And I love to pass on this knowledge to others through my work.