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Vision Changes as We Age: What's Normal, What's Not?

Sep 09, 2016

September Is "Healthy Eye Aging Month—a good time to think about your vision, now and in the future.

Squinting a little more to read labels or catch that email on your phone? You're not alone. As you age, it's normal to notice changes in your vision. According to the National Eye Institute, some changes are normal, some may be cause for concern.

It's Normal to:

  • Lose focus, find it harder to focus vision up close.
  • Find it challenging to distinguish colors, such as blue from black, or to see where an object ends and its background begins.
  • Need more light to see well and more time to adjust to a leaving a dark room and going into a brightly lit room.

If you're at this stage, there's no need to worry about anything other than thinking about getting "readers," prescription glasses or contact lenses and improving the lighting throughout your home—from the kitchen to the bathroom.

And, stay on schedule for regular dilated eye exams—every two or three years after age 50. During this exam, your eye doctor puts drops in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupils to get a clear view of what's going on inside your eyes and to look for signs of eye disease.

Actual vision loss, is not a normal part of aging. But the risk everyone faces is that as you age, you are at higher risk of developing age-related eye conditions and diseases.

They include:

  • Age-related macular degeneration(AMD) - The leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. As many as 11 million people in the U.S. have some form of this disease and that number is expected to double to nearly 22 million by 2050. Age is a risk factor.
  • Cataract - A clouding of the lens of the eye. This is something that happens to most people if they live long enough. Fortunately, it's also a correctable condition and the surgery to implant clear, new lenses in your eyes has reached new heights of ease and vision correction.
  • Diabetic retinopathy - The most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes. It affects blood vessels in the retina and can cause them to bleed or leak fluid, distorting vision.
  • Glaucoma - A group of eye diseases that gradually steals your sight without warning and often without symptoms.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Vision Right Now

  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise.
  • Maintain normal blood pressure
  • Control diabetes (if you have it).
  • Wear sunglasses and a brimmed hat any time you are outside in bright sunshine.
  • Eat a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish.
  • Wear protective eyewear when working around your house or playing sports.