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Aging & Eyesight: 5 Ways Aging Affects Our Optical Health

Old woman wearing eyeglassesAs we age, it is inevitable that our bodies will change. Unfortunately, one of the changes that we must face involves our vision. The older we get, there are some things that we should be on the lookout for.

By understanding what signs to look for, we can be better prepared. Preparation is key in being able to look to the future!

Here are five ways that aging can affect our optical health.

1. Presbyopia

Presbyopia is a condition that cannot be escaped. Typically, around the age of 40, you might notice that it is more challenging to focus on objects that are up close. A hardening of the lens inside your eye causes this and reduces your ability to focus on subjects in front of you. While this is completely normal, it should not be ignored.

Adjusting the distance at which you hold reading materials may suffice for a short time, but the condition will continue to advance through the years. Depending on your needs, you should look into reading glasses, progressive lenses, or multifocal contact lenses to address this issue. Make sure to stay up to date on eye exams so that you can change the prescription of your glasses or contacts if necessary.

2. Floaters and Flashes

Another common symptom of aging eyes can be floaters and flashes. This is when a small speck or flash of light interferes with your vision. This most commonly occurs in well-lit rooms or outdoors on a bright day. Most of the time, these are caused by changes in the fluid of your eye and are completely harmless.

Less commonly, these could be a sign of retinal detachment. If you do have floaters or flashes, especially a sudden change in the number you see, please contact your eye doctor.

3. Cataracts

Another common sign of aging eyes is the formation of cataracts disease. In a healthy eye, the lens is clear, allowing for light to pass through the eye in a normal function. Cataracts are cloudy areas that can cover some or all of the lens of your eyes. These cloudy areas are caused by proteins that begin to clump together.

These areas can cause your vision to become cloudy and blurry. Some say it is like trying to take a picture through a dirty lens. While this is obviously not ideal, the good news is that there is a way to have the cataracts removed. Surgery can be very effective and completely remove the cataracts, clearing your vision once again. Make sure you discuss any related symptoms with your doctor as it is often better to remove the cataracts before they advance too far.

4. Glaucoma

While some of the other items discussed will have obvious signs, glaucoma can easily go unnoticed by the person affected. Caused by pressure inside of the eye, it can lead to a permanently damaged optic nerve. The optic nerve transmits visual information to the brain, and if damaged, it can result in a loss of vision. This loss of vision often starts with peripheral vison and eventually leads to blindness if left untreated. This is a very serious disease that can cause irreversible problems. It is very important to attend routine eye appointments to catch glaucoma early on and begin treatment before the disease advances.

5. Macular Degeneration

The leading cause of blindness among Americans over the age of 65, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is caused by a thinning of the macula. The macula is the light-sensitive part of the retina. AMD affects the central vision, which in turn limits your ability to recognise faces and read. If left untreated, blindness will occur. This makes it imperative to start treatment as early as possible. If AMD runs in your family, you are at a much higher risk of onset.

What Can I Do?

old woman on the phoneNow that you are aware of some major eye problems related to aging, it is important to understand what you can do. First, you have to know your eyes. Be aware of your current vision and take notice of anything that changes. If anything does change, take these concerns to your doctor and discuss them. It is always better to discuss concerns and be ahead of the game. This leads into the final point – do not skip eye exams!

You should have regular eye screenings to ensure you have healthy eyes. Many of the conditions discussed in this article benefit greatly from early detection, so make sure to go to those appointments!

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