Facts about vision loss later in life

Posted on 2016/02/10 at 12:52 pm by LASIK MD

Plenty of individuals score 20/20 or better on visual exams and see distant highway signs with the same clarity as the pages of a book. That is, until they turn 40 and their vision begins to change.

When it comes to ocular health, your 40s can be a time of unavoidable change. According to the CNIB, it’s in this decade of life when many people notice a change in their vision. Whether that means they can’t read the morning paper without touching their nose to it, or colours don’t appear quite as vibrant as they once did, they’re experiencing very common symptoms of aging. In addition to these relatively harmless eye issues that can be ameliorated with the aid of glasses or laser vision correction, growing older also puts people at risk of developing some more severe ocular diseases and disorders.

If you’re approaching or past the age of 40, read on to discover more important facts about vision loss later in life.

Common age-related diseases and disorders
Here are some vision problems associated with age that affect large portions of the population.

1. Age-related Macular Degeneration 

  • AMD is a disease in which the macula is responsible for deteriorating vision. The macula, which is centered in the retina and located in the back of your eye, is what allows you to see tiny details and colours. Typically, macular degeneration lowers central vision, meaning that people with the disorder still have full side vision. Because central vision is vital to activities like driving, recognizing people’s faces and reading, being diagnosed with AMD can greatly affect your lifestyle. A healthy diet and regularly visiting your eye doctor can help you avoid AMD or catch it in its early stages, explained CNIB.

“Cataracts can be genetic or a result of trauma.”

2. Cataracts 

  • Cataracts alter your vision so that the lens of your eye, which is normally clear, becomes cloudy, making it difficult to see. If you have cataracts, it may always feel like you’re looking at life through a foggy window. They can also change your vision in other ways, like by causing you to see halos around light or by making colours appear yellowed.
  • While cataracts can be genetic, they can also be a result of trauma to the eye or symptoms of other chronic medical issues, like diabetes. If you notice any changes to the quality of your sight, contact your physician immediately, as cataracts can appear differently in every patient. There are multiple types of cataracts, and if you receive a diagnosis, your doctor can run some more targeted tests to determine what variety you have.

Serious age-related eye problems
Some people develop more severe diseases and disorders that affect their eyes. Here are a few that are common among older adults.

1. Glaucoma 

  • The term glaucoma actually references a group of diseases that can greatly damage your optic nerve. It’s typically spurred by high rates of pressure inside the eye, though it can develop when intraocular pressure is normal as well. There are many different types of glaucoma, though they all typically present few or no symptoms in their early stages. Because of this, many people are unaware that they have this invasive disease, explained All About Vision. Glaucoma should be monitored and treated by a physician as it’s a serious disease that can cause blindness if left untreated.

2. Diabetic retinopathy

  • Diabetes can affect many different parts of the body, and some diabetics may see the disease extend to their eyes. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, diabetic retinopathy occurs when light-sensitive retinal tissue sustains damage to its blood vessels. The source explained that anyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes is at risk for this condition. People who have been diabetic for long periods of time and diabetics whose blood sugar is regularly out of control are more likely to be diagnosed with this serious ocular issue, which is why it’s more common in adults. Diabetic retinopathy typically presents itself with symptoms like spotty, fluctuating or blurred vision. It can also affect how you view colour, and may even result in total vision loss.

Eye problems regularly found in older adults 
Even if you don’t have a major disease, you may still notice your vision faltering as you get older. Here are some treatable ocular problems many people encounter throughout their adult lives.

1. Floaters 

  • Floaters are regularly reported among adults over 40, explained Doctors of Optometry Canada. They often appear on bright days or in very well-lit spaces, and they look like little pinpricks “floating” through your line of vision. While they’re simply a symptom of getting older for many people, they can also be indicative of a more serious issue, as they are listed as warning signs of the development of more severe conditions, like glaucoma. This is why, if you believe you’re experiencing them, you should tell your doctor immediately.

2. Presbyopia 

  • While not often referred to by its medical name, presbyopia is what happens when your ability to see small print or close items starts to diminish. If you’ve noticed that reading books or menus has become next to impossible, or you’ve developed headaches from straining your eye, you aren’t alone – this issue affects a large chunk of the population. Simply getting a pair of reading glasses can help remedy the issue.

3. Eyelid issues 

  • While they don’t often develop based solely on age, eyelid issues can form from a number of other disorders that are common among older adults. Doctors of Optometry Canada explained that the most common eyelid issues include swelling, redness, itchiness, tearing and crusting during sleep. Many eyelid problems stem from a treatable condition known as blepharitis. Be sure to visit your doctor if you experience any changes to the inside or outside of your eyelid.

Because your vision may change as you age, it’s important to visit your eye doctor regularly. Your physician can monitor your ocular health to make sure you aren’t developing any severe issues.

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