Is There Anything to Help Aging Eyes?

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 3-Mar-2014

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.

Click here 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.

Categories: Eye Conditions, Eye Health
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