It’s a fact of life that vision changes occur as you get older. The loss of vision can drastically affect your independence and quality of life. But these changes don’t have to compromise your lifestyle if you know the signs, know what to expect and when to seek professional care! Protecting your vision should be paramount.
If you are over 40 years of age, you’ve probably noticed changes in your vision. Difficulty focusing clearly especially with close distances (presbyopia) is among the most common problems adults experience especially reading, and which affects your lifestyle, work and plain enjoyment of life. The older you get, the more you need to be attentive to the warning signs and the health problems that may cause vision loss. Many eye diseases have no early symptoms and may be painless with an insidious onsets until it is quite progressed. Wise lifestyle choices and regular eye exams can significantly improve your odds of maintaining good eye health while you age.
2 Signs your vision is FAILING @ Any Age:
- You start to hold reading materials farther away to see them clearly. Newspaper or restaurant menu seem blurred, more noticeably under poor lighting.
- If you already wear corrective eyewear these changes force you to upgrade to bifocal or multifocal lenses.
With this onset, there is also an increase in the incidence of eye health problems that may occur during these years (50-60). Everyone should have an eye exam at least every 2 years to ward off unnecessary vision problem and after 60 yrs of age- yearly. Do not be fooled by the limited driver’s license vision test or other vision screenings to determine if you have an eye or vision problem~
You are at risk for the development of eye and vision problems IF you have:
- Chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
- A family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration.
- A highly visually demanding job or work in an eye-hazardous occupation.
- Health conditions which require medications, such as, high cholesterol, thyroid conditions, anxiety or depression, and arthritis. Many medications, even antihistamines, have ocular side-effects.
5 Common Age-Related LifeStyle Vision Changes
1. Need for More Light- more light but brighter lights to help make reading easier.
2. Difficulty Reading and Doing Close Work- focusing on printed material blurs. The ciliary muscle, the muscle of accommodation is not as flexible, known as presbyopia. Solutions include:
i. Eyeglasses, inc. single vision reading glasses and multifocal lenses ii. Contact lenses, inc. mono-vision and bifocal lenses iii. Laser surgery and other refractive surgery procedures
Side note: Interestingly, between 50 and 60 there seems to be a need for more frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions. At 60, these changes usually stop along with prescription changes. Eye exercises, if done consistently can be beneficial.
3. Problems with Glare- Headlights at night or the suns reflection make simples tasks like driving, dangerous. The lens of the eye scatters light rather than focuses directly on the retina, thus- glare.
4. Color Perception Change- certain shades of color may start to be difficult to ascertain thus harder to see.
5. Insufficient Tear Production- tear glands tend to dry up with age, thus fewer tears. (postmenopausal women are especially prone) resulting in dry, irritated eyes. Tears are essential to keeping your eyes healthy and affording sight.
4 Warning Signs of Eye Health Problems
Any of the following symptoms may indicate early warning signs of serious eye health problem which is why regular eye examinations along with early diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases may just be the ticket to preserve good vision throughout life.
1. Fluctuating Vision Frequent changes in seeing clearly may indicate diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure). These chronic conditions may damage the blood vessels in the retina, the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye, resulting in vision loss.
2. Seeing Floaters and Flashes Seeing spots or floaters in your eyes are actually shadowy images of particles floating in the fluid inside of the eye ball. Although bothersome, floaters are usually considered harmless and are considered a natural part of the eye’s aging process. A few are ok but if they are accompanied by bright, flashing lights, beware of impending retinal detachment—a tear of the retina which requires immediate medical treatment to prevent serious loss of vision.
3. Loss of Side Vision Loss of peripheral or side vision may indicate the disease, glaucoma. It occurs when the optic nerve is damaged and no longer transmits the visual images to the brain. There are no symptoms until damage to the vision is apparent.
4. Seeing distorted images If straight lines appear distorted or wavy or there appears to be a blind spot or empty area in the center of your vision, you may have the signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for vision where the eye’s acuity is sharpest. AMD causes a blind spot(s) in the middle of your field of vision.
6 Eye Problems That Effects Vision From Loss & Blindness
1. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
2. Diabetic retinopathy
3. Retinal detachment
6. Dry eye
No one takes into consideration or perhaps the consequences of lifestyle and how it influences or robs you of the life you dreamed of… until it is too late.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” B. Franklin.
~Ask Dr Pat