Eyesight After Age 40
As you get older, some vision changes are natural and aren’t cause for alarm, while others are much more serious.
Here are four vision conditions to be aware of as you age:
If you squint to read as you get older, you could have presbyopia — “old sight” in Greek. As you age, the lens of your eye begins to harden and lose its flexibility, which makes it more difficult to focus when things are close up.
Presbyopia, or age-related farsightedness, is a very common vision change for people in their 40s through their 60s.
There are several treatments for the condition, including reading glasses. If you have trouble reading the fine print, schedule an appointment with Dr. Van Amerongen to find out what treatment is best for you.
Cataracts make the lens of the eye look cloudy. Cataracts gradually develop as the tissues in your eye that are responsible for focus begin to age. Colors may appear less vibrant and you may have blurry spots in your field of vision.
Cataracts are one of the most common vision changes after your 40s. They’re also the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40, and the leading cause of blindness overall if left untreated.
However, if your vision worsens, cataract surgery is a relatively simple procedure. Your eye’s lens is replaced with an artificial lens and your cloudy vision will vanish.
During eye exams for 40 and older clients, Dr. Van routinely looks for cataracts. He provides pre- and post-surgery care and will refer you to the most appropriate eye surgeon for your particular cataract condition. (See eye surgery co-management.)
As with cataracts, an eye with glaucoma will be cloudy or foggy. As you age, the pressure within your eye may increase and eventually damage your optic nerve. Glaucoma can make your peripheral vision blurry, and in serious cases, it might make you physically ill.
How serious is it?
While glaucoma isn’t an uncommon vision change for people over 40, the effects are serious and can include blindness if untreated. Medication can moderate some of the effects of glaucoma.
Unfortunately, glaucoma is often asymptomatic. It is not noticeable until irreversible vision changes have occurred. That’s an excellent reason to see Dr. Van regularly.
If you have a family history of glaucoma, severe myopia, you’re over 60, diabetic, African American, you have a higher risk for developing glaucoma.
WHEN WAS YOUR LAST EYE EXAM? Schedule an appointment now with Dr. Van Amerongen.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
If your vision includes blind spots, call us immediately: Age-related macular degeneration may be to blame.
The macula — the small middle part of the retina — allows you to see fine detail, but its tissues are thin and deteriorate as you age. This can cause blind spots to form in the center of your vision.
Is it serious? AMD is the leading cause of vision loss among older Americans and should be treated as a severe risk to your health.
If untreated, AMD can permanently damage your central vision. If caught early, the disease may be treated with nutritional supplements and exercise.
There is no cure for AMD. Early prevention is your best defense against severe cases that can require severe treatments, such as injections in your eyes or laser therapy.
Annual eye exams can keep your vision healthy
As we age, regular eye exams are critical to maintaining our health. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Van Amerongen and make a plan for ongoing vision care.