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Age and Your Eye Health

It is nor­mal for you to expe­ri­ence changes in your vision through­out your life, and as you age, your risk of devel­op­ing cer­tain eye con­di­tions increas­es as well. For most peo­ple, changes in their eyes begin in their ear­ly to mid-40s and will con­tin­ue into their ear­ly 60s. The most com­mon visu­al change in old­er adults is dif­fi­cul­ty see­ing things close by, pri­mar­i­ly when read­ing or work­ing on a com­put­er. This is a con­di­tion called pres­by­opia, a nor­mal change in your eye­’s abil­i­ty to focus. This hap­pens when the lens of your eye los­es some of its flex­i­bil­i­ty, mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult for your eyes to shift eas­i­ly from objects far away to objects near­by. Typ­i­cal symp­toms include dif­fi­cul­ty read­ing print mate­ri­als includ­ing books, news­pa­pers or menus, espe­cial­ly in dim light. You may find your­self hold­ing objects away from you in order to see more clear­ly. Once it devel­ops, pres­by­opia will con­tin­ue to progress as you age. Indi­vid­u­als who already wear glass­es or con­tact lens­es may need to switch to bifo­cal or mul­ti­fo­cal lens­es for help with near and far dis­tances. Those who haven’t need­ed con­tacts or glass­es in the past may need to use read­ing glass­es mov­ing forward.

You may also notice some oth­er com­mon age-relat­ed visu­al changes including:

  • Need­ing more light to see clear­ly. Using brighter lights in any work­spaces or areas you plan to read in can help.
  • Expe­ri­enc­ing sen­si­tiv­i­ty to glare, includ­ing head­lights while dri­ving, or the sun reflec­tion dur­ing the day. This is due to changes in the lens of your eyes that cause the light enter­ing your eye to scatter.
  • Col­or per­cep­tion changes. The lens of your eye is nor­mal­ly clear, but as you age, it may become dis­col­ored. This makes it more chal­leng­ing to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between col­ors or shades of colors.

In addi­tion to vision changes, old­er adults are also more like­ly to devel­op eye con­di­tions including:

  • Cataracts, which occur when your lens becomes cloudy, and caus­es vision to appear blur­ry and col­ors to seem faded.
  • Dia­bet­ic eye dis­ease, which is the lead­ing cause of blind­ness. The most com­mon form is known as dia­bet­ic retinopa­thy and devel­ops when dia­betes dam­ages the blood ves­sels in your retina.
  • Dry eye, which is the result of low­ered tear-pro­duc­tion, and can make cer­tain activ­i­ties like read­ing or using a com­put­er uncomfortable.
  • Glau­co­ma, which is a dis­ease that can dam­age your optic nerve and cause vision loss or blind­ness. Indi­vid­u­als with glau­co­ma typ­i­cal­ly have increased eye pres­sure and may expe­ri­ence impaired periph­er­al vision as well.
  • Mac­u­lar degen­er­a­tion, which is a dis­ease that over time, impacts your cen­tral vision which is need­ed to see objects clearly.

Your eyes under­go sig­nif­i­cant changes as you age. It is impor­tant to com­plete an annu­al, com­pre­hen­sive eye exam to mon­i­tor for any eye or vision prob­lems that may be devel­op­ing. You may be at a high­er risk to devel­op cer­tain eye con­di­tions if you have any of the following:

  • A chron­ic med­ical con­di­tion, like dia­betes or high blood pressure
  • Are tak­ing med­ica­tions to man­age con­di­tions like high cho­les­terol, thy­roid issues, anx­i­ety or depres­sion (it is not uncom­mon for cer­tain med­ica­tions to have visu­al side effects)
  • A fam­i­ly his­to­ry of glau­co­ma or mac­u­lar degeneration
  • A job that is very visu­al­ly demand­ing or may expose you to poten­tial eye-hazards

Eye and vision changes often con­tin­ue to progress until about the age of 60. To make an appoint­ment with an oph­thal­mol­o­gist to dis­cuss any changes you may be expe­ri­enc­ing with your eyes, call 6303228300 or online at www​.dupagemed​ical​group​.com/​s​e​r​v​i​c​e​s​/​o​p​h​t​h​a​l​m​ology.

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