Learn About Age-Related Vision Changes and How to Treat Them

Category: Health Tips | Senior Health | Vision Care | Vitamins & Supplements

Grandfather reading to his grandson

Whether you've never or always worn glasses, you may be experiencing some age-related vision changes. There are certain conditions that you may be more susceptible to now, but there's a lot you can do to protect your eyes and maintain your vision.

 

Whether you've never or always worn glasses, you may be experiencing some age-related vision changes. There are certain conditions that you may be more susceptible to now, but there's a lot you can do to protect your eyes and maintain your vision.

One is to be aware of some symptoms that may be a cause for concern. If you experience loss of eyesight, blurred vision, eye pain, double vision, redness or swelling, contact your eye doctor immediately. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that everyone should get a baseline eye exam at the age of forty. Your ophthalmologist or eye care specialist will then recommend a schedule for follow-up exams based on family history and exam results, although they will typically be every year or every other year.

Keeping up with these visits is important, but there's more you can do to preserve your eyes' health:

  • Keep your eyes safe by wearing protective goggles when the occasion calls for it (e.g., when playing sports or working with wood) and sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays whenever you're enjoying the outdoors.
  • If you spend long periods of time focusing on one object (e.g., a computer screen), try to give your eyes a break every 20 minutes.
  • General health advice stands to benefit your eyes just as much as the rest of you. Fill up on vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables (especially leafy greens) and dine on fish like salmon and tuna, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking may help keep certain visions problems at bay, too.

Age-Related Vision Changes and Conditions: Symptoms and Treatments

Many eye conditions have no early symptoms but can be successfully treated or managed if caught before the disease advances. Here are some common ones.

Presbyopia

If you're having problems reading instructions on a medicine bottle or a menu at a dimly lit restaurant, you may have presbyopia. This common condition, caused by the lens of your eye losing flexibility, usually starts to develop after age 40 and affects your ability to read things close-up.

Common treatments: reading glasses (or "readers"), laser surgery

Dry Eye

When your tear glands don't produce enough tears or quality tears, you can develop dry eyes. Symptoms include itching, burning, irritation, and, sometimes, vision loss.

Common treatments: a humidifier, special eye drops that stimulate tears, surgery (in severe cases)

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is a leading cause of vision loss but does not lead to total blindness. The disease develops slowly as your macula (part of your retina) gets thinner. Symptoms, which include blurry vision and cental vision loss, usually only occur after AMD has progressed.

Common treatments: a combination of vitamins and mineral supplements (which may help slow the disease's progression), laser eye surgery, injectable medication

Glaucoma

When your eye drainage ducts get blocked or the fluid passes too slowly through the meshwork drain, fluid can build up in your eye, causing pressure. This pressure can cause optic nerve damage and lead to glaucoma. There are no early symptoms, so it's important to get regular eye exams. Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in older adults.

Common treatments: prescription eye drops, oral medications, laser treatment

Cataracts

A cataract is a cloudy area that develops in the lens in the front of your eye. It can block part or all of your lens and impact your vision. Cataracts form slowly and without other symptoms. As they progress, your vision can become blurry or cloudy, and colors can seem faded.

Common treatments: surgery

If your cataract becomes big enough to impact your vision, surgery can remove it. According to Cleveland Clinic, cataract surgery is very safe and one of the most common surgeries in the United States.

Now is a great time to turn your focus to taking special care of your eyes, so why not start today?

By Joelle Klein

 

Sources:

National Eye Institute, Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration

National Eye Institute, Age-Related Eye Diseases

WebMD, Macular Degeneration Center

Cleveland Clinic, Aging and Your Eyes

American Academy of Ophthalmology, Macular Degeneration Treatment

American Optometric Association, Adult Vision: Over 60 Years of Age

National Eye Institute, Eye Health Tips

American Academy of Opthalmology, Vision Screening Recommendations for Adults 40 to 60


These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.