If you are over 40 years old and have noticed your vision declining, it
may not be the result of an eye condition but simply natural changes in
eyesight due to age.
As the human body ages, some functions begin to deteriorate, including
vision. Many people over 40 will experience
age-related vision loss as a result of
presbyopia, with symptoms such as difficulty seeing to read and performing other
tasks requiring nearsighted vision. Presbyopia can be corrected with reading
glasses or bifocals.
Cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma
are other eye conditions common in aging adults, some of which can lead
to severe vision loss.
Cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the focusing lens of the eye. Cataracts can
blur vision, making it difficult to see street signs and traffic lights
while driving. They can also make it difficult to read, watch TV and perform
other common daily tasks. A cataract is not a growth or film on the eye
but once the focusing lens is clouded, there is no way to clear it. Cataract
surgery must be performed to replace the affected lens.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration. This condition involves the diminishing of sharp central vision due to
age-related damage to the macula. You may experience difficulty completing
common daily tasks such as reading or driving. It is common in adults
over 50. Sometimes, macular degeneration advances so slowly that symptoms
go unnoticed. This disease can be detected early with a comprehensive eye exam.
Diabetic Retinopathy. With diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels in the back of the eye leak, impairing
vision. This condition is caused by diabetes and can lead to a significant
loss of sight. It is the leading cause of blindness in those aged 20 to
64 years old, and is one of the most frequent causes of retinal blindness
in the world. About 25 percent of diabetics have some form of diabetic
retinopathy, and 5 percent have a severe version of the disease. Early
detection of diabetic retinopathy through a
comprehensive eye exam is vital to preserving vision.
Glaucoma. This age-related condition occurs when the fluid in the eye does not flow
normally, resulting in high pressure inside the eye. When pressure builds
in the eye, optic nerve damage and permanent blindness may result if not
controlled. You may be at higher risk of developing glaucoma if you have
high blood pressure, high blood sugar or a family history of the disease.
Again, early detection of glaucoma with a comprehensive eye exam is essential.
to learn more about the warning signs of age-related eye problems.
Can age-related vision conditions be prevented?
There is research to suggest living a healthy lifestyle and eating a nutritious
diet may help protect your eyes from certain age-related vision conditions.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Nutrition, eating
a diet rich in vitamin C and carotenoids (plant pigments) can protect
the lens of the eye and help prevent cataracts. Foods such as sweet potatoes,
cantaloupe, spinach, kale and tomatoes are rich in carotenoids.
Smoking and sun exposure can adversely affect your vision and increase
your risk of developing eye problems with age. Quit smoking (or never
start) and always wear sunglasses that protect against the sun’s
UVA and UVB rays.
Have your eyes checked regularly by your eye doctor. If you are over age
65, you should have annual eye exams. Many vision problems and eye diseases
can be detected before you experience any warning signs or symptoms with
a thorough exam. The earlier these eye problems are diagnosed and treated,
the greater your chances of restoring your vision.
Though some vision loss with age is to be expected, it should not be ignored.
If you notice changes in your vision, have difficulty seeing to complete
daily tasks or difficulty distinguishing between colors, call your eye
doctor to set up a
comprehensive eye exam.