If you're over 40, have you seen changes in your vision?
Just as our bodies have different needs as we age, so do our eyes. Many of these changes are just a normal part of aging while others may be due to age-related eye conditions.
Read on to learn more about the effect of aging on vision.
Age-related eye changes
There are many subtle changes to the eye as we age that are not necessarily considered eye diseases.
- Presbyopia– You may have noticed that most people over 40 use some form of vision correction. This is due to presbyopia, a decline in the ability to focus due to the hardening of the lenses in the eye. It is a natural part of the aging process and may become noticeable in your 40s. Reading glasses or bifocals can correct this issue. If the idea of having to carry around extra glasses and put them on to see your phone or a menu doesn’t appeal to you, there are also contact lenses specifically designed for presbyopia called “ multifocal contact lenses.” Coopervision makes a variety of multifocal lenses including a 1-day lens, a monthly lens, and a lens specifically designed for early presbyopes.
- Dry Eye– Our eyes produce fewer tears as we age, particularly in women after menopause. Artificial tear drops can help as can certain medications.
- Smaller pupil size– The muscles that control our pupil size and reaction lose strength as we age causing them to be less responsive to changes in lighting. Seniors may need three times more light to read than those in their 20s.
Age-related eye diseases
As we age, the risk of contracting a number of age-related eye diseases–such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration–increases.
- Cataracts–This condition is caused by a build-up of proteins in the lens resulting in a clouding effect. It is very common among older adults and will happen to all of us if we live long enough. Luckily, cataract surgery, in which the clouded lens is replaced with an artificial lens, is very effective.
- Glaucoma– This is a serious eye disorder that can cause blindness in as few as three years after onset. It is caused by a pressure build-up in the eye due to fluid not draining properly. While there is no cure, glaucoma is very treatable when caught early. Since early stages of the disorder are symptom-free, it’s important to keep annual eye exams.
- Age-related macular degeneration– AMD is the leading cause of blindness among seniors affecting more than 1.75 million Americans. It is a disturbance of the retina that controls how well we see detail in front of us versus in our periphery. This makes tasks such as reading fine print much more difficult.
Aging is not for the faint of heart, but the good news is that with healthy diet and lifestyle choices plus regular visits to your eye doctor, you can keep many of these issues at bay and seek treatment early for any that arise. If you need a new eye care provider, use our "Find an Eye Doctor” tool to locate one in your area.