From eating lashings of Marmite to remembering to blink more often, the simple tricks that’ll… Anti-age your eyes
- Unfortunately for us women, the hormonal changes that occur just before and during the menopause can affect vision in particular
- New research from beauty companies show that the skin around the eye can have a biological age up to 22 years older than other parts of the face
- But the good news is that there’s plenty you can do to menopause-proof those windows to the soul…
- Even if the rest of your body feels like that of a 30-year-old, your eyes can let you down. Unfortunately for us women, the hormonal changes that occur just before and during the menopause can affect vision in particular.
- Falling levels of androgens (sometimes referred to as ‘male’ hormones) as we age can cause a lack of the salty solution and protective oil in the tear film, giving rise to dry eyes.
- Meanwhile, falling levels of oestrogen can increase your susceptibility to eye diseases including cataracts, glaucoma and AMD (age-related macular degeneration). And then there’s the cosmetic side of things to consider. Research from beauty companies also show that the skin around the eye can have a biological age up to 22 years older than other parts of the face.
Dermatologist Dr Ginny Hubbard says: ‘Under-eye puffiness, dark circles, fine lines and bags are the most common tell-tale signs of ageing, and the eye area is usually the first facial area to suffer from loose skin.’
This is because the upper layers of the skin around the eyes are relatively thin compared with other parts of the face, and the skin here shows signs of less elasticity as we age.
But the good news is that there’s plenty you can do to menopause-proof those windows to the soul…
NEVER SKIP CHECK-UPS
When you find yourself trying to super-size the font on your mobile, you know you’re on the slippery slope to spectacles.
Long-sightedness — the creeping inability to read fine print — is an inevitability of age, and every woman gets to the point where she can no longer clutch at eternal youth by avoiding the optician and grabbing a pair of foxy leopard-print reading glasses from the petrol station instead.
Experts warn a proper eye check is the only way to detect early signs of a condition called glaucoma, the biggest cause of avoidable sight loss in the UK.
It’s also good to be on the look out for dry eyes. This medical syndrome often appears at menopause and can make your dwindling vision seem so much worse than it really is.
According to Dr Nigel Best, a clinical optometrist with Specsavers, changing hormone levels causes a drop in the quality and quantity of tears. Without constant lubrication, your eyes can feel scratchy and become sore, and you may find focusing a struggle.
That’s when fluttering your eyelashes becomes a good idea. Blinking resurfaces the eye with fresh tears.
POWER OF B VITAMINS
A good, balanced diet will keep all aspects of your brain and body operating optimally, but some foods are particularly good for your eyes:
- Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E (found in fruit and colourful or dark green vegetables) can reduce your risk of cataracts in older age.
- Vitamin A (found in beef or chicken liver, eggs, butter and milk) can help protect against night blindness and dry eyes.
- Beta-carotene (found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and butternut squash) when taken in combination with zinc and vitamins C and E may reduce the progression of an eye condition called age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
- B vitamins (found in Marmite) can improve visual fields and ‘retinal sensitivity’ in patients with glaucoma. You’ll find 25 per cent of your recommended daily amount of B12 in a 5g serving of Marmite, so, if you’re a fan — and at risk of glaucoma — you might have to stomach 20g (four teaspoons) of the black stuff on your toast each morning.
ARCH THOSE BROWS
Menopause does strange things to your body hair (you’ll find less on your shins and head and more on your chin) and eyebrows do not escape the cosh of hormonal change.
Eyebrow guru Shavata Singh says brows will typically become more pale and sparse with age. ‘We start losing definition and structure in our face as we get older,’ she says, ‘which means it is very important to maintain your brows to ensure they remain a focal point for a youthful-looking face.’
She recommends tinting the brows to cover greys, and conditioning them with a slick of castor oil each night to help keep them strong.
Drop the eyebrow pencil and instead fill in any sparse areas using powder (Brow Perfector, £24 from shavata.co.uk), using short, feathered strokes, then brush through with a ‘spoolie’ brush (like a clean mascara wand) to disperse the colour, easing the brows upwards to give the impression of lift.
‘SIT-UPS’ FOR YOUR EYES
Natural health specialists argue that you can preserve your vision for longer if you perform daily eye exercises such as rapidly switching your focus from near to far and back again, rolling your eyes from side to side, and trying to function without glasses.
Experts remain sceptical. ‘The muscles which control the eye are not like skeletal muscles, you simply can’t train them to become stronger,’ says Dr Best.
However, there is a growing movement in favour of regular facial exercises to tighten up the minuscule muscles of the jaw, the mouth, the forehead and around the eyes.
If you can firm a wobbly tummy, bottom and thighs through targeted muscle-toning exercises, it makes sense that you should be able to plump and strengthen facial muscles as they slacken with age.
Holding fingers firmly against your brow bone, blink six times. Then close your eyes and feel a gentle downward stretch in your eyelids against the resistance of your fingers. Hold for a count of ten. Relax slowly, then repeat.
- Invest in an eye primer to smooth the surface of the eyelid as well as the skin underneath the eye, to disguise any discolouration and ensure make-up stays put.
- Avoid glossy or shimmery shadows, which can draw attention to creases. Use matte colours instead.
- Ditch black eyeliner (too harsh) and apply darker eye shadow with a small brush in a soft line along base lashes.
Lashes can become shorter and sparse with age, so boost their impact by using a lash growth serum or have them regularly tinted and curled