Age-Related Vision Problems
Problems with our vision become more and more common as we grow older.
Knowing what the age-related vision problems are and how they present themselves can help you treat their symptoms early. Here are a few of the most common age-related vision issues:
Presbyopia is a condition that makes it difficult to focus on objects near you. Though the exact cause is not known for sure, it becomes more apparent with aging and is most likely tied to the gradual weakening of the muscles that allow the eye to focus up close.
Throughout life, our ability to focus on near objects degrades measurably. As children, we can easily focus on something 50 millimeters away. At around 25, we’ve lost half of that focusing power, down to being able to focus on things at about 100 mm. However, when we reach about 60 years old, our focus is reduced to about 1-2 meters.
Presbyopia is the most common reason people need reading glasses. You might first notice it as difficulty reading fine print or as eyestrain after reading for long periods. Its symptoms are much more apparent in low light conditions than in bright light. It is apparent in most people and is even apparent in those who have had LASIK eye surgery.
LASIK surgery is performed on the cornea of your eye, while presbyopia has to do with the lens and the muscles that control it. This is something that is not well-understood by most people, and results in many questions about failing vision in older years even though LASIK was previously performed.
Cataracts are a somewhat more serious visual issue that can occur with age. Though they most commonly appear via the natural processes of aging, they can be caused by a wide variety of other issues. Cataracts are more serious because they are the leading cause of blindness in the world. If they go untreated for long enough, they result in complete loss of vision.
A cataract is nothing more than a clouding of your eye’s natural lens. The cloudiness is a result of yellow-brown pigment being deposited within the lens. As the lens gets cloudier and cloudier, vision is further impaired. Eventually, the lens becomes so cloudy that light cannot pass through it and vision is totally lost.
Some of the symptoms that come with cataracts are cloudy vision, night-time glare, changes in your prescription, and yellowing of vision. People often report difficulty in driving, reading, recognizing faces, and appreciating color.
The good news is that cataracts are treatable. Cataract surgeries have become more and more advanced as the years have gone by, increasing their safety and effectiveness. Cataract removal is now performed via laser eye surgery.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (or AMD) is a condition that affects your sharp vision, which is necessary for focusing on things straight ahead. AMD is the most common vision-related issue among people who are 50 or older. Alone, it does not cause blindness. However, it can cause a significant reduction in your vision, eventually affecting your day-to-day activities.
The symptoms of AMD are blurred vision in the center of your visual field, which may grow over time or lead to a blank spot directly in the middle of your vision. Symptoms usually don’t present themselves until after the condition has worsened significantly. Many people who have AMD don’t know it—the only way to know for sure is a professional eye exam.
Though AMD almost always occurs in those 60 or older, there are other factors that lead to its occurrence. If you’re a smoker, you may be at a greater risk to develop AMD. Smoking can double your risk of developing the condition. AMD is also most common among Caucasians who have a family history of the disease. Research shows that avoiding smoking, exercising regularly, maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol, and eating healthy can all reduce your risk of developing AMD.