Aging is a natural part of life, which means that it’s normal for your body to undergo noticeable changes as the years pass by. However, Some of these changes can be concerning, especially as they relate to your vision. Being aware of how your eyes can change helps prepare you to take the measures necessary to protect your eyesight and maintain optimal eye health now as well as in the years to come.
While you can experience eye problems at any age, many of the following changes in vision are commonly associated with aging. Below are some different kind of changes that can happen to your vision.
Presbyopia refers to a decline in the ability to comfortably view objects up-close and read fine print. This is one of the most common age-related eye changes that many adults will begin experiencing, some as early as age 35. Presbyopia occurs when the lens within your eye gradually hardens, making it difficult for your aging eyes to clearly see the objects or text in front of you. Symptoms of presbyopia include squinting, eye fatigue, and frequent headaches.
Tearing, also known as epiphora, involves your tear glands producing too many tears, usually as a result of a sensitivity to sunlight, wind, temperature changes, and other factors. Sometimes, however, tearing is a sign of a blocked tear duct or an active eye infection.
Most of the following eye diseases develop slowly, and it’s possible for you not to experience any signs or symptoms. Being cognizant of these conditions can help you detect them as early as possible and manage them effectively.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the part of the eye called the macula. The macula is part of the retina, and it’s responsible for sharp and detailed vision. As you age, this area of your retina loses cells, which results in blurred or distorted vision and, in more severe cases, loss of vision. Nutritional supplements can help in the early stages of this eye disease, but patients with severe cases of AMD may need to seek therapy, medical injections, or surgical treatments to help slow the progression.
Your vision should always be clear—not cloudy. If cloudiness becomes an issue, you may have cataracts. Cataracts blur your vision, making it difficult for you to focus on people and things both near and far. Some cataracts stay small, but those that don’t can interfere with your ability to perform daily activities such as reading and driving. Large, thick cataracts can be removed surgically.
When the optic nerve in your eye is subjected to increased high pressure, the nerve can become damaged and glaucoma can result. The optic nerve sends visual information to the brain, making this eye disease one that needs to be treated as soon as possible in order to avoid permanent vision loss and blindness. Heredity, age, race, diabetes, and the use of some medications can increase your risk of glaucoma. Since glaucoma can easily go undetected, an annual vision exam will allow your optometrist to examine your optic nerve and measure the pressure within your aging eyes.
Your retina (a thin layer of tissue in the back of your eye) can detach from an underlying piece of tissue that plays a role in relaying visual information to the brain and supplying your retina with the oxygen and nutrients it needs to remain healthy. If you experience wavy vision (as if you are swimming underwater with your eyes open), floaters, flashes, or dark shadows in your field of vision, it’s likely that your retina needs to be surgically reattached by your trusted medical provider.
Temporal arteritis occurs when the blood vessels within your temples become obstructed and/or inflamed. This condition tends to occur in people over the age of 50, and women seem to be more susceptible than men. Symptoms of temporal arteritis include jaw pain, severe headaches, chronic fever, and visual disturbances, among others. If left untreated, temporal arteritis can cause sudden—and permanent—vision loss.