It’s a perfectly natural and normal part of life for our eyes to get worse as we get older. At 22, your vision reaches its full potential and you’ll enjoy it for many years. Gradually, you’ll begin to see the effects of this slow process.
But fear not! Vision correction is one of the most studied areas of medical science. If you’re over 40, schedule a comprehensive eye test with your optometrist at least every two years to check for developing eye and vision problems.
Adults over 40 who have the following health or work issues may be particularly at risk from developing eye and vision problems:
- Chronic, systemic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
- A family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration.
- A highly visually demanding job or work in an eye-hazardous occupation.
- Health conditions related to high cholesterol, thyroid, anxiety or depression, and arthritis for which you take medications. Many medications, even antihistamines, have vision side effects.
Warning Signs of Eye Health Problems
This is also the time in life when there’s the potential for developing a number of eye and vision problems increases. The following symptoms could be an early warning sign of a developing an eye health problem:
Frequent changes in how clearly you can see may be a sign of diabetes or high blood pressure. These chronic conditions can cause damage to the tiny blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye.
Seeing floaters and flashes
Occasionally, you may see spots or floaters in your eyes. In most cases, these are shadowy images of particles floating in the fluid that fills the inside of the eye. Although they can be bothersome, spots and floaters typically don’t harm vision. They’re a natural part of the eye’s aging process.
But if you suddenly see more floaters than normal, along with bright, flashing lights, see your optometrist immediately. This could be a sign that you have a tear in your retina, and it could detach. This needs to be treated quickly to prevent serious loss of vision.
Loss of peripheral vision
Losing peripheral vision may be a sign of glaucoma. Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve is damaged and no longer transmits all visual images to the brain. It often has no symptoms until damage to your vision has begun.
Seeing distorted images
Straight lines that appear distorted or wavy, or an empty area in the centre of your vision could be signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD affects the macula, which is the part of your retina that is responsible for central vision. This causes a blind spot in the middle of your field of vision.
Presbyopia in Middle Aged People
Beginning in the early to mid-40s, some adults start to have problems seeing clearly at close distances, especially when reading and working on the computer. This is among the most common problems adults develop between ages 41 to 60, so there’s no need to panic right away. This completely normal change in the eye’s focusing ability, called presbyopia, will continue to progress over time.
Initially, you may need to hold reading materials farther away to see them clearly. Or you may need to remove your glasses to see better up close. Print in the newspaper or on a restaurant menu may appear blurred, especially under dim lighting.
But don’t worry, it affects everyone. Worldwide, an estimated 1.3 billion people had presbyopia in 2011. This number is expected to increase to 2.1 billion by 2020.
If you have any concerns about your vision, visit your nearest Eyesite branch. Our helpful and friendly staff are here to help answer any questions you have.
Presbyopia generally is believed to stem from a gradual thickening and loss of flexibility of the natural lens inside your eye. These age-related changes occur within the proteins in the lens, making the lens harder and less elastic over time.
There are five types of presbyopia:
- Incipient presbyopia. This is the very earliest stage, when it may be a bit more difficult to read small print.
- Functional presbyopia. This occurs when you begin to notice more problems with near sight.
- Absolute presbyopia. If you have this type, your eyes cannot focus on near objects at all.
- Premature presbyopia. This term is used when presbyopia occurs before the age of 40 years.
- Nocturnal presbyopia. When this occurs, focusing on near objects is particularly difficult in low light conditions.
Eye Care Treatments
If you already wear prescription glasses or contact lenses to see clearly in the distance, changes in your near vision can be corrected by switching to bifocal or multifocal lenses.
There are a number of highly effective treatments for presbyopia that range from corrective lenses to surgery. In order to properly treat conditions such as presbyopia, you should first get your eyes tested.
A comprehensive eye test at Eyesite involves several different stages during which your optometrist will fully assess every aspect of your eye health and vision.
Eyeglasses for over 45s
Some people over 45 find that adopting varifocal or bifocal glasses is a convenient and cost-effective way to treat presbyopia. Bifocal lenses have two different levels of focus. The bottom portion has a stronger prescription for close distances to counter the early effects of presbyopia. The top portion has your standard prescription.
The most common option for glasses, however, is varifocal lenses. These act in a similar way to a bifocal, only with a gradual transition from distance to near prescription. This solution makes the lenses more visually attractive (as they look the same as single vision glasses), but can take a little more getting used to.
Finally, there are reading glasses. These are best suited to those who prefer just to use glasses to read eg. their morning paper, and have no desire to wear glasses all day long.
The options for glasses might seem a little overwhelming, but don’t worry. Our help staff will guide you through all the options available to you.
Just like glasses, contact lenses for presbyopia can be multifocal. This allows you to simultaneously see at distance whilst helping to compensate for your weaker close vision.
Monovision contact lenses have a different prescription for each eye. One eye has good long distance viewing, while the other eye has good short distance viewing. The brain quickly learns to favour one eye over the other depending on what you’re looking at.
The final option for presbyopia is surgery. Presbyopia surgery involves replacing the natural lens with an artificial lens. This lens works in a similar way to multifocal contact lenses, only the lens stays permanently inside the eye. This is the same operation as for cataract surgery.
Surgery can also be used to create monovision. Surgery is done on one eye to correct near vision while the other eye is either left alone and acts as your long distance eye, or corrected for distance if it has a distance prescription.
If you have any concerns regarding recent changes in your vision, or would like to book your next eye test, get in touch with our team today.