The View at 40, and Beyond

See how your eyes change with time.

With each passing year, we gain more memories and, hopefully, more wisdom. But as we grow older, we can’t deny that our bodies change, too, including our eyes and vision. While it’s a natural part of life, it’s important that we stay aware of age-related vision changes to keep our sight and health on track.

After 40, vision’s often not 20/20

If lately you’ve found yourself squinting at print or holding a book at arm’s length, you’re not alone. Difficulty seeing clearly for reading and close work is among the most common problems for those between the ages of 41 to 60.1 Starting in the early to mid-40s, most of us may experience presbyopia, a condition in which the lens in the eye becomes less flexible, making it more difficult to focus at close distances.2 Fortunately, you have many options for dealing with presbyopia. Reading glasses, prescribed by your eye doctor, can be a simple answer. If you already wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, you may need to switch to bifocal or progressive lenses. If you’re nearsighted, you may simply need to remove your glasses to see better up close. As you continue to age through your 50s, presbyopia typically becomes more advanced, and you may need stronger close-vision lenses. But these changes often stop around age 60.3 Also, if you’re over 40, you’re more likely to develop eye health and vision problems if you have any of the following risk factors:4

Finding yourself squinting at print, or holding a book at arm’s length?

If you’re over 40, you’re not alone.

  • Diabetes
  • A family history of glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye, can lead to vision loss) or age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (loss of central vision)
  • A visually demanding job or eye-hazardous work

In addition, medications that are prescribed for common health conditions such as high cholesterol, thyroid conditions, anxiety or depression, and arthritis can increase your risk for vision problems.5 Many medications, even antihistamines, can adversely affect your vision.6

If you’re over 60

As you reach into your 60s and beyond, it’s important to watch for warning signs of age-related eye problems that could cause vision loss. Many eye diseases have no early symptoms, but early detection through regular eye examinations and treatment can help slow or stop their progression. Here are some of the problems you and your eye doctor should watch for:7

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)—an eye disease that causes loss of central vision
  • Diabetic retinopathy—a condition that occurs in long-term diabetes; may cause vision loss
  • Retinal detachment—tearing or separation of the retina from the underlying tissue8
  • Cataracts—clouding of the lens of the eye; a cause of vision loss
  • Glaucoma—damage to the optic nerve; a cause of blindness
  • Dry eye—lack of eye lubrication

Issues such as needing more light, difficulty reading, problems with glare, changes in color perception and reduced tear production9 are signs that you should schedule an eye exam.

Look forward to the years ahead

Growing older brings changes, but it also brings the opportunity to enjoy all the people and experiences we’ve gathered over our lives. To help ensure optimal eye health, take care of your eyes today and in the years ahead with an annual eye exam. Because no matter what your age, when you see and feel your best, you’ll have the time of your life.

  1. American Optometric Association, “Adult Vision: 41 to 60 Years of Age,” 2010.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. American Optometric Association, “Adult Vision: Over 60 Years of Age,” 2010.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.