Can you imagine life without the sense of sight? No more seeing the vivid colors of a flower bed, no more seeing the beautiful faces of those you love, and no more seeing yourself in front of a mirror. Unfortunately, that is the reality of more than 3.4 million Americans aged 40 and older.
Similar to graying hair, slowing metabolism, and sagging skin, aging will eventually affect your eyes and vision. Understanding how your eyes change with time may help you prevent the worst from happening, as well as keep your eyes in the best health possible.
Top Eye Problems for Adults 40 and Older
Here is a list of prevalent eye conditions and diseases encountered at different stages of adulthood. Some of them are normal, age-related developments. Others, however, may be signs of a vision-impairing condition or disease.
Presbyopia is the progressive loss of your eyes’ ability to focus on nearby objects. In your early 40s, the lens in your eye begins losing flexibility. As a result, it makes seeing or reading up close a challenge. The condition literally means “aging eye,” with many adults calling it the “annoying part about getting older.” The most common treatment is over-the-counter reading glasses. Multifocal contact lenses, refractive surgery, and other treatments are also available.
2. Diabetic Retinopathy
If you are in your 50s, 60s, or 70s and have diabetes, you are at risk for this eye disease. Diabetic retinopathy arises when the blood vessels inside your retina secrete fluid, swell, or close off because of high blood sugar levels. The good news is, there are ways to prevent diabetic retinopathy. One of the most critical preventive steps is to see your ophthalmologist routinely for diabetic retinopathy screening exams.
3. Dry Eye
Yes, dry eye is a serious condition that occurs with age. It is also a common problem among pregnant and menopausal women, mainly because hormonal changes affect the eye’s tear production. Certain medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, and central-acting agents for hypertension can also provoke the onset of dry eye.
If you have this condition, you might concurrently develop blepharitis. Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids, in which they become red, itchy, and dandruff-like scales form on the eyelashes. An effective way to combat a recurrent case of dry eye is to see an ophthalmologist.
In addition, follow these tips to keep your eyes hydrated:
- Use artificial tears that contain zero preservatives.
- Stay away from cigarette smoke, which can dry your eyes.
- When staring at a computer or phone screen for prolonged periods, remember to blink naturally and take a break every hour to prevent dry eyes.
- Use a humidifier in your home or office during the fall and winter to keep the air moist.
- Drink up to ten glasses of water every day to keep your whole body hydrated.
Glaucoma is a complex eye disease that harms the optic nerve, which is responsible for sending visual information to the brain. The terrifying consequence of untreated glaucoma is it can cause complete blindness.
The disease is widespread among people aged 55 and older.
Showing no signs and symptoms in the early stages, a number of people who have glaucoma do not know they have it. The latter reiterates the importance of having regular eye exams, especially as you grow older.
A cataract is extremely common in older men and women. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the clouding of the eye’s natural lens affects 24.4 million Americans. The same source reported that by age 75, about half of all people in the United States would have cataracts.
The proteins in the natural lens start to clump together with age. These clumps, otherwise known as cataracts, make the lens less transparent and cause cloudy, blurry, or dim vision with increased glare. As a result, driving, distinguishing colors, and other daily activities become difficult to accomplish. Treatment can include glasses or undergoing surgery to remove them. Understanding the link between nutrition and cataracts may also play a role in prevention.
The clear gel or fluid that fills the inside of your eye begins to shrink over time, forming clumps. These can appear as floaters, which are small specks or lines present in your field of vision. This gel can also detach from the back wall of the eye, causing you to see flashing lights or streaks in your vision. Floaters are typically harmless. But in some cases, it can induce retinal detachment and blindness.
Read this article to learn about the preventive measures and treatment options for eye floaters.
7. Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) damages the central vision, limiting your ability to read and recognize faces. Untreated, AMD can lead to complete blindness. Luckily, there are multiple ways to manage age-related macular degeneration. Pursuing a healthy lifestyle may also prevent this vision-threatening disease.
How to Age-Proof Your Eyes and Vision
The best way to preserve your eyes is by being proactive. Do not wait to develop symptoms before seeing a licensed ophthalmologist in Sun City, AZ. The AOA encourages all adults to see an ophthalmologist by age 40, which is when age-related changes begin affecting the eyes.
Following the baseline exam, adults should have comprehensive eye exams:
- Every two to four years until the age of 54.
- Every one to three years until the age of 65.
- Every one to two years after the age of 65, or as advised by your ophthalmologist.
Keep in mind that you may need more frequent eye exams if you have a disease that can impact your eyes, such as diabetes.
Your Ally in the Battle Against Aging Eyes
Here is a no-brainer: early detection and routine visits to the ophthalmologist can reduce vision loss. In many cases, our treatments here at Arizona Retinal Specialists can correct eye diseases and conditions, even the aggressive AMD. So, whether you are experiencing presbyopia, dry eye, or any of the problems mentioned in this article, we have the solution for your aging eyes.