Vision loss is, unfortunately, a natural part of the aging process. Most adults over age 40 experience a decline in their vision called presbyopia. As we mature, the crystalline lens of the eye loses its elasticity and begins to harden, making it difficult to see up close. While presbyopia is not considered a disease of the eye, there are several eye diseases that also affect many people as they age such as cataracts. However, vision can be restored with cataract surgery.
As vision deteriorates with age due to presbyopia, many people find themselves holding books or other reading material at arms length to be able to read. Oftentimes, people become dependant on reading glasses to magnify print, and as vision loss progresses, even bifocal lenses. Without vision correction surgery, presbyopia will cause vision to continually decline.
If you are experiencing frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription, or have found that you need more than one pair of glasses depending on the task at hand, it may be time to consider surgical options. Cataract surgery is one option of treatment for individuals suffering from presbyopia. This allows for the lens to be removed, and then replaced with an artificial lens that allows for the patient to see near and far without complete dependence on glasses.
As we age, most of us will experience age-related vision loss. The Mayo Clinic estimates that nearly half of all Americans 65 and older have some form of cataracts. Presbyopia and cataracts are not the only age-related eye diseases resulting in vision loss. Here are some other common age-related causes of vision loss:
- Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of blindness in Americans 65 and older. ARMD reduces the ability to focus sharply as needed for tasks such as driving and reading. There are no cures for ARMD, but treatments are thought to slow the degeneration process.
- Glaucoma is an eye disorder related to a buildup of pressure in the eye, which can cause peripheral vision loss and eventually blindness. Risk of developing glaucoma significantly increases with each decade after 40. Treatments for glaucoma can include basic treatments such as eye drops to laser surgery.
- Diabetic retinopathy is estimated to affect nearly 40 percent of diabetics. Damage to the retina caused by diabetes can eventually cause blindness. Diabetic retinopathy can be prevented with regular eye exams.
While most adults will experience some form of vision loss as they age, the good news is that advancements in medicine and technology allow most age-related vision loss to be partially or even fully restored.
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