Curious about what happens with your eyes and aging? Here’s what to know about age-related eye disease and how to care for your eyes for your entire lifetime.
There are seemingly endless changes we experience as we age, and our vision is no exception. But being aware of the relationship between our eyes and aging can help us prevent or identify age-related eye disease. And it can help us take steps to keep our eyes as healthy as possible for years to come. Here are some answers to common questions about eyes and aging.
What are the common reasons our eyes change as we age?
Different parts of our bodies change as we grow older, and the eyes are similar. One of the most prevalent effects of aging is the loss of reading vision. If you’re 40 or older, you likely have reading glasses already or are starting to have trouble reading up close. This is called presbyopia and generally increases over time. As the lens in the eye becomes less flexible over time, it’s more challenging to focus up close.
Eyes also tend to become more sensitive as they get older. You may start noticing glare more, which is because of light entering the retina in a more scattered fashion (rather than directly on the retina). You may start experiencing more dryness since tear glands in the eyes decrease their production of tears over time. Another common part of aging is an increase in seeing floaters and flashers in your field of vision, which can be annoying but are typically harmless (although a symptom like this necessitates an eye exam quickly, as they can also be a symptom of a detached retina).
What age-related eye disease should I know about?
In addition to the common vision changes noted above, there are additionally several eye-related conditions that often come with age. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, a family history of eye diseases or take certain medications, you may be more at risk for developing some of these conditions.
- Glaucoma basically means your optic nerve is damaged and has stopped transmitting all visual images to the brain. It’s caused by abnormally high pressure in the eyes. Although it often comes with no symptoms, a loss of peripheral vision can signal glaucoma’s presence.
- Cataracts are the clouding of the eye’s lens. They are common in aging eyes, but certain healthy practices throughout your life can do a lot to prevent or slow their development. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and should be checked by an eye doctor immediately to determine whether cataract surgery is ideal for you.
- Age-Related Macular Degeneration occurs when the macula (which is part of the retina) is damaged. With this disease, your central vision typically becomes impaired, while your peripheral vision remains intact. Again, certain healthy lifestyle practices can do a lot to decrease your odds of developing age-related macular degeneration.
How can people keep their eyes healthy through all stages of their life?
While none of these age-related vision changes are positive, there are steps you can take today to have better eyesight and eye health in your later years. Here are some top tips:
- Stop smoking
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a nutrient-rich diet that is dense in antioxidants, as well as Vitamins A & C
- Wear full spectrum UV-protective sunglasses anytime you’re outside or your eyes are exposed to reflected sunlight
- Exercise regularly
- Get annual eye exams
Schedule a consultation today to keep your eyes healthy today, and into the future!