With each passing year, we gain more memories and more wisdom. (We hope!) But as we grow older, our bodies change too, including our eyes and vision. This process is natural, but it’s important to stay aware of age-related vision changes to keep our sight and health on-track.
If you’ve found yourself squinting at print or holding a book at arm’s length lately, 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.
40 to 60
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.
1 Fortunately, you have many options for dealing with presbyopia. Reading glasses, for example, can be a simple answer. As you continue to age through your 50s, presbyopia typically becomes more advanced. But these changes often stop around age 60.
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:
- A family history of glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye can lead to vision loss) or age-related macular degeneration (loss of central vision)
- A visually demanding job or eye-hazardous work
In addition, medications prescribed for common health conditions such as high cholesterol, thyroid conditions, anxiety or depression, and arthritis can increase your risk for vision problems.
1 Many medications, even antihistamines, can adversely affect your vision.
If you’re over 60
As you reach 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:
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)—an eye disease that causes loss of central vision
- Diabetic retinopathy—a condition that occurs in long-term diabetes and may cause vision loss
- Retinal detachment—tearing or separation of the retina from the underlying tissue
- Cataracts—clouding of the lens of the eye and a cause of vision loss
- Glaucoma—damage to the optic nerve and 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 production
2 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.