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Eye Health – The Key to Squaring the Healthspan Curve

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Eye Health – The Key to Squaring the Healthspan Curve 

With the birth of our first child, I started thinking about longevity and how to make my life last as long as possible. Not just long, but healthy.

This is the concept of lifespan vs. healthspan. Your lifespan is the length or “span” of your life. Healthspan is the length of time in your life that you’re healthy enough to get the most out of it. The idea being that lifespan doesn’t matter much if you are too sick or disabled to enjoy it.


We Need to Square the Healthspan Curve

Check out the graph here. As we get older, and time goes on, our health slowly deteriorates. “Squaring the curve” means keeping healthy and active through the years and only at the end of your life, just before you die, does your health decline quickly. The line becomes more of a square than a curve.

However morbid, the idea is that you make the most of the years you have.

The three principals crucial to squaring the curve (as well as achieving long life) are good nutrition, sleep and exercise. You get these three right, and you’re on your way not only to a long lifespan but a squared healthspan as well.


Your Eyes and Vision – Crucial to Squaring The Curve

Maintaining your eye and vision health may be the most critical aspect in squaring the healthspan curve. If you lose your vision, your quality of life suffers incredibly. Losing your eyesight in the last 10 to 20 years of your life will dramatically impact what you are able to get out of it.


What To Do

The 3 principals to keep your eyes healthy (besides the aforementioned nutrition, sleep and exercise) are:

  1. Don’t smoke. Easy enough to say but hard to do if you’re a lifelong smoker. But quitting is a twofer. Because no smoking is a real close #4 on the health principles above and has been linked to everything from cataract to macular degeneration, quitting gives you double the benefit to your eyes AND your overall health.
  2. Wear sunglasses. Along the same lines as smoking, sunlight can damage your eyes just the same- by creating free radicals and instigating oxidative damage. The high energy of UV light causes damage to the retina that eventually leads to macular degeneration- the number one cause of blindness in those over 65 years of age in the United States.
  3. Get an eye exam. The problem with eye disease is that it is slow, without symptoms and only noticeable when it is too late to treat adequately. There are two poster children for this- glaucoma and dry eye disease. Both need to be caught early and, if they are, can be treated before they cause blindness with the former and unrelenting pain in the latter.

Of all your senses vision is the most important and, indeed for many, almost as important as life itself. Keep it healthy and it will go a long way in squaring your healthspan. Ignore it, disregard it or take it for granted and, unfortunately, it will catch up with you down the line.

Written by Carolina Eye Doctors

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