Aging causes changes in every part of your body, including your eyes. But why? There are a variety of different effects that aging eyes can have on your vision for a myriad of different reasons. These can include presbyopia, dry eyes, cataracts, floaters, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and peripheral vision loss. Fortunately, there are ways to help prevent eye problems as you age.
Why Is My Eyesight Getting Worse as I Get Older?
The lens, which sits inside the eye flexes and bends during our youth, and over time, it becomes less flexible. The flexibility of the lens allows the eye to focus on small print. When the lens loses that flexibility, we start to be challenged when trying to focus on small print. We refer to the flexibility of the lens as accommodation. During our early to mid 40s is when the lens has lost a noticeable amount of accommodation.
How Does Aging Affect Your Vision?
Aging can have effects on your eyes that vary from little issues that are easier to cope with to severe problems that affect your vision and eye health.
Presbyopia is the phenomenon previously discussed in which the lenses of your eyes begin to harden, which makes it more difficult for your eyes to focus. For adults over the age of 45, the percentage of those afflicted with presbyopia ranges from 83% to 88%.
Similar to the hardening of the lens with age, your eyes also become drier as you age. The odds of having dry eyes is particularly high in women who have gone through menopause. Dry eyes can cause intermittent blurriness, burning and itching. Artificial tear drops can be helpful, but their effectiveness can be very fleeting. There are treatments and prescription eye drops that can be necessary to alleviate dry eye..
As you age, cataracts occur when the lens at the center of your eye becomes cloudy. Over time, cataracts can become severe enough that it affects your vision. Untreated cataracts are one of the leading causes of reversible blindness. To tackle this problem, cataract surgery is recommended to replace your cloudy lens with an artificial lens.
Over half of Americans over the age of 80 either have cataracts or have had cataract surgery.
Floaters become more common the older you get. They are a result of the gel-like substance inside of your eye shrinking. They appear as tiny pieces of string that float back and forth across your visual field.
They are not a cause for alarm unless there is a sudden increase of floaters and you see flashing lights. These can be signs of vitreous or retinal detachment.
Interestingly, the floaters you see are actually shadows of the actual floaters.
Glaucoma is when the pressure in your eye becomes too high. In many cases, people do not have symptoms initially. This can be dangerous as unchecked glaucoma can lead to permanent vision loss.
Thankfully, there is a simple test that can be performed to test for it. Once detected, you can take prescription medications, use eye drops, or have surgery to protect your vision.
Glaucoma is most commonly found in Americans over the age of 60.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration causes changes to the macula, the space of your retina that controls central vision. This condition causes your central vision to become blurry or have blank spots that make it hard to read, drive, and recognize faces.
There are two kinds of age-related macular degeneration: dry and wet. For the dry form, antioxidant supplements are recommended for treatment. For the wet form, laser treatments and injections are used to help prevent the blood vessels in the macula from leaking.
Your peripheral, or side, vision is affected as you age. Typically, peripheral vision decreases by as much as 20 to 30 degrees once you reach your 70’s, which makes it difficult to perform many tasks, including driving.
How Can You Prevent Vision Problems as You Age?
With as common as age-related vision issues are, it’s important to know how to take care of your aging eyes to help prevent or correct them. This can include:
- Seeing a physician regularly to check for diseases that could cause eye problems
- Visiting your optometrist for regular appointments every year with a complete eye exam to detect issues early
- Have an eye exam with pupil dilation at least once every year if you have a history of eye diseases or diabetes
The Experts at Clear Choice Laser
Excellent eye care can go a long way to prevent vision loss and eye diseases. That’s why it’s important to see trusted, knowledgeable experts, the team at Clear Choice Lasik.
If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of loss of vision or eye disease, don’t hesitate to call us at (216)-279-9353 or contact us at the Cleveland Eye Clinic.