Several eye conditions become more prevalent as we age.
As we age there are several things that can begin to change in our eyes. The most noticeable change happens in our early 40s. You might start noticing some eye strain as reading things up close becomes harder. It may become necessary to push things farther away to try and focus better.
Presbyopia occurs when the lens inside the eye that changes shape to focus, becomes more rigid. This makes it more difficult to focus near vision. Optometrists usually recommend progressive lenses allowing for better distance vision as well as extra help for seeing up close. Lined bifocals, trifocals and reading glasses are other options.
For contact lens wearers, there are now many brands of multifocal contacts that work similar to progressive glasses. The sooner you start using progressives or multifocal contacts, the easier it is to adapt to when the correction needed for near vision is less.
Cataracts are a clouding of the lens inside the eye that can develop as we age and are increasingly prevalent from age 60 onward. Macular degeneration is Exposure to sunlight and a concern with increased having certain conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can increase the risk of developing cataracts. An optometrist can help determine the severity of a cataract and refer a patient to a cataract surgeon if surgery is warranted.
Another condition that becomes more prevalent as we age is glaucoma. Over time, glaucoma can cause a loss in peripheral vision. During an annual eye exam, the optometrist will test the pressure of the eye. Higher pressures can be a risk factor for developing glaucoma. When checking the retina, the doctor will evaluate the health of the optic nerve that can be affected by glaucoma. A test of each eye’s peripheral vision can also be performed. If diagnosed with glaucoma, treatment such as pressure-lowering drops to slow the progression of vision loss can begin.
In age-related macular degeneration patients may have distortions or even a blind spot in the middle of their vision. The eye doctor can check the health of the macula when the retina is evaluated. Vitamin supplements that may include lutein and zeaxanthin can be taken to reduce the risk of existing macular degeneration from worsening. Treatments for more progressive macular degeneration are available from specialists.
One more thing to look for are “floaters.” The vitreous gel that makes up the space between the lens inside the eye and the retina becomes less solid over time. These little dots or “floaters” can appear in your vision from this process. If there are more floaters than normal or any bright flashes of light, contact your optometrist as this could be a sign of retinal detachment.
All of these conditions can be spotted early with an annual eye examination. The sooner any of these conditions are diagnosed the sooner they can be treated.