“What’s going on with my eyesight?”
If you’ve recently started experiencing blurry vision or difficulty reading text up close, you may be asking yourself and even your physician that question. The answer may be related to aging if you’ve reached the time of life between 41 and 60 years of age when vision changes become common.
Many age-related vision problems are treatable with eyeglasses — think of it as an opportunity to add a stylish accessory to your wardrobe — or contact lenses. As you age, it’s important to prioritize your eye health.
Vision Changes and Refractive Errors
When you reach middle age, your eyes, like your joints and other parts of your body, may start to behave differently. It may be harder to focus on objects that are right in front of you. In addition, you may find it more difficult to see in low light, or glare while driving may bother you more than before.
Some vision changes occur naturally with aging. Others are due to a group of conditions called refractive errors, the risk of which increases with age. These conditions include:
- Astigmatism — blurry vision due to an abnormally shaped cornea or lens.
- Hyperopia (farsightedness) — when objects close to you appear blurry.
- Myopia (nearsightedness) — struggling to focus on faraway objects.
- Presbyopia — difficulty seeing things up close, but for a different reason than hyperopia.
When Vision Changes Can Lead to Loss of Vision
In some cases, vision changes may be signs of a serious eye condition that, if diagnosed late or left untreated, can lead to loss of vision. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, women are more at risk for some of these conditions, which include but are not limited to:
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Affecting the middle part of the retina and damaging central vision, AMD sometimes causes rapid vision loss. Symptoms include blurry and distorted vision.
- Cataracts. This condition — clouding of the lens — is the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. It can reduce nighttime vision and increase glare sensitivity.
- Glaucoma. This condition occurs when excess fluid raises pressure in the eye and damages the optic nerve. Glaucoma may also cause rapid vision loss in some cases.
How to Safeguard You Sight as You Age
As you get older and your risk for eye conditions rises, eye care becomes increasingly important. See an ophthalmologist regularly for an eye exam — you may need one annually or less frequently, depending on your risk factors — and be sure to tell your provider about any vision changes.
You can take steps to promote healthy eyes, including:
- Control high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Follow a healthy, antioxidant-rich diet.
- Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum.
- Kick the nicotine habit.
- Manage diabetes so that your blood sugar levels stay within the target range set by your healthcare provider.
- Stay up to date with your glasses or contact lenses prescription.
- Wear sunglasses when you’re outside.
Show your eyes some love, and you’ll see benefits for years to come.
Find a Provider
Looking for an expert to help you manage your eye health? Find an ophthalmologist at St. Elizabeth Physicians in Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana.