Visual Changes Throughout The Golden Years
As we grow into mature adults, a period some refer to as the "golden years", quite often we find our vision changing. As much as we would like to have bionic eyes, truth be told, vision changes after 40 are often what many might describe as "less than perfect".
Now, don't go getting the blues. This doesn't mean you will suffer from horrible blindness as you age. What you should do however, is make sure you schedule frequent visits with your primary healthcare provider AND your ophthalmologist or optometrist.
Visual Changes: 40 to 65 and Beyond
Often as people age their vision becomes less acute. This is normal. Studies suggest roughly 10 percent of people younger than 45 suffer from serious visual impairment, or serious enough to require some vision correction; other studies show almost one of every thirteen people over 65 years old will suffer from acute or chronic visual impairments.
These may vary from person to person, so says the American Foundation for the Blind. For example, people that are in relative good health, eat well and have no chronic illness may develop very few if any visual changes until well beyond the age of 60.
A common condition that preys on people over age 40 is presbyopia, which manifests slowly. You may find you start having trouble reading the fine print in a magazine or newsletter. Many people develop presbyopia, which usually requires reading glasses or the equivalent to fix. For most people this is not a huge concern. Researchers are looking for ways to improve vision to help prevent serious presbyopia, through use of tools including laser vision correction as in LASIK or by using certain eye exercises, to help reduce the strain on the eyes during the day and at night.
Other conditions common to people over 40 include:
- Dry eyes - while some people experience dry eyes after LASIK or while they are young, many people find they produce less tears as they age. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist can help you select from a wide range of treatment choices including simple eye drops to restore liquid to dry eyes. Some studies suggest women are more susceptible to this phenomenon largely resulting from the changes occurring in their body after menopause.
- Cataracts - you've probably seen someone with cataracts, usually an older acquaintance or relative. Cataracts are a small thin film that coats the eye, which can with time make vision difficult or blurry. Most eye doctors will treat cataracts early, by removing them or by using various technologies including LASIK like procedures.
- Glaucoma - this is a more serious condition that affects people usually in their 60s and beyond (although it may occur sooner for some). Glaucoma occurs when too much fluid in the eye results in fluid pressure that irritates the eyeball itself, which can lead to visual changes including loss of vision. It is important you receive annual eye exams to detect and treat this condition early.
- Diabetic Retinopathy - this disease is usually a side effect of chronic diabetes, and may occur in young and old alike, although older people diagnosed with diabetes are more likely to develop this condition.
Other conditions people report as they age include having problems seeing or driving at night. If you find your vision declining as you age, be sure you talk with your eye doctor as soon as possible. There are many new technologies and types of lenses including trifocals or bifocals without lines that can help restore vision and your zest for life!
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