Why Your Eyes Get Worse as You AgeBy Srini Mutyala
If you are over 40, you have probably noticed some changes in your vision. Eye issues related to aging are common. You may have trouble reading a restaurant menu in low light, or the glare of headlights interferes with your vision more than it used to. You may have to strain to read numbers on your cell phone. These types of vision changes can be a normal part of aging, and several factors contribute to them.
Diseases of the eye become more common as you age. The cloudy vision caused by cataracts is one of the most common and correctable diseases of the eye. Glaucoma, a condition caused by increased pressure in the eye, is another common issue that can be diagnosed by an eye doctor. The diseases with the most serious impact on vision affect the retina at the back of the eye. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to the death of retinal cells, which can, in turn, lead to blind spots. Age-related macular degeneration involves the death of cells in the central portion of the retina.
Wear and Tear
Many kinds of visual damage can happen over the years. Frequent exposure to direct sunlight can damage the retina. Chemicals, like the chlorine in swimming pools, are harsh on your eyes. Using screens in low light or staring at screens for long periods of time can lead to eye strain and an impaired ability to focus. A direct injury to the eye, such as a scratched cornea, can have long-term implications for vision.
Many vision issues related to aging have genetic connections. Disorders like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration can be passed from one generation to the next. Genetics also impact the likelihood of diseases that have vision issues as a symptom. Both types of diabetes run in families and can lead to diabetic retinopathy. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you should have an annual eye examination. High blood pressure also runs in families and can have negative effects on eye health, causing issues such as glaucoma and hypertensive retinopathy.
Every part of your body will change as you age. While changes in vision can be disturbing, many of them are just the natural result of an aging eye. The eye’s lens becomes less flexible, leading to an inability to focus on objects that are close to the viewer. You may have to hold a book at arm’s length for the letters to be in focus. As your tear ducts change, you may have issues with dry eyes or frequent tearing. Floaters in your field of vision become more common as you age. These are caused by clumping in the vitreous liquid inside your eyes. Floaters will come in and out of your field of vision. However, if you notice a constant dark spot, consult a doctor right away.
While a visit to the eye doctor cannot stop the aging process, you can receive advice about ways to treat some common age-related eye issues. Advances in medicine, such as Lasik surgery, can help correct many vision issues. Laser cataract surgery can quickly provide improved vision. If you have concerns about your eyes, contact an eye care professional to learn your options.