Do you find yourself squinting at your smartphone more often than not? Maybe you need to hold printed items like menus, memos, or maps at arm’s length to see them more clearly. Does it seem like websites these days all use such small fonts and background colors that it’s impossible to read the content they’re offering?
Just like the rest of our bodies, our eyes’ ability to see, focus, and read changes over time. Usually the effects of aging on vision begin to become noticeable in one’s 40s or 50s. In many cases, these issues can be fixed in short order by buying a pair of readers from the drugstore; other folks need more precise vision correction, and head to the optometrist for their very first pair of glasses.
Whether your eyesight has done a 180 in the past couple of years, or you’re still blessed with 20/20 vision, it’s essential that you keep those peepers healthy! Let’s take a closer look at some of the conditions and diseases that commonly accompany the inevitable aging process.
One of the leading causes of vision loss around the world, cataracts occur when the eye’s lens starts to become discolored or cloudy. It’s actually not that different from a pair of glasses getting smudged, except that you can’t fix the problem with the hem of your t-shirt!
Luckily, there is a solution that is safe and effective – cataract surgery. Cataracts most often develop in people who are 50 or older, but surgical intervention usually isn’t required for another 15-20 years. That said, it’s preferable to have cataracts removed in the earlier stages. If you are noticing your vision getting fuzzy or hazy – and it doesn’t improve by moving the object of your gaze closer or further away – talk to your primary care physician or your ophthalmologist.
To guard against the development of cataracts, get the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C. Decrease your eyes’ exposure to the sun and wind by wearing sunglasses with polarized lenses and hats.
Glaucoma is another eye-related condition that manifests in one’s later years. Known as a “silent disease” because it’s usually asymptomatic until it becomes quite advanced, this hereditary problem can lead to blindness.
“It’s a smart idea to have your eyes examined every two or three years after you turn 40, even if you don’t require corrective lenses,” say the optical experts at Clarity Vision. “If the symptoms of glaucoma are detected early enough, it is often possible to control it simply by using eyedrops.”
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
The macula is a structure in your retina that’s responsible for clear vision in the center of your line of sight. As people get older, the macula thins, resulting in a condition called Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). When an individual can’t see things clearly in their direct line of vision, it becomes much more difficult to drive, read or use a computer, do activities around the house, or even recognize others’ facial expressions.
AMD is hereditary and eventually leads to blindness. Although it is, unfortunately, not treatable, there are several steps you can take to prevent it or limit its severity. Reduce your exposure to the sun, look into certain vitamins and supplements, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens in particular.
Have you ever experienced a tiny, dark speck that seems to come out of nowhere to float across your vision? Floaters are normal and happen to everyone once in a while. They often appear in a brightly lit environment.
Floaters become more common after the age of 50, as a result of the eye’s aging process. They are harmless and shouldn’t be cause for concern – unless they suddenly multiply in number or are accompanied by flashes of light. If this happens, contact your eye doctor as soon as you can; an increase in floaters or floaters that appear with flashes can be a sign of retinal detachment.
Most people think of tears as the drops that fall from your eyes when you’re sad or upset. But our eyes constantly produce tears; they are vital to ocular health. As the tear glands grow older along with the rest of your body, however, they may not make enough tears. The result is dry eyes.
Dry eyes are uncomfortable. They may make your eyes burn or itch. To alleviate the symptoms of dry eyes, use a humidifier to improve the air quality in your home. You can also try eye drops that replicate real tears or, in very serious cases, opt for surgery to help correct the issue.
Staying healthy into your 70s, 80s, and beyond involves more time and effort than staying healthy as 20-somethings did, but it’s essential that you devote that energy to taking care of yourself as you age. Add eye health to your list of health-related priorities and your baby blues, greens, or browns will thank you down the line!
True silence is the rest of the mind and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment, and refreshment. — William Penn