Why aging affects your vision
Apr 21st, 2016 - Blog

As we age, we start to notice changes within our bodies and with our outer appearances. There are many small details that trail along with the natural aging process, for example, wrinkles and decreased physical strength. While you may take more notice of these changes from the outside, what you do not recognize are the changes happening on the inside. Not only does your strength begin to weaken, but your vision as well. The aging process is inevitable and your vision will change throughout the years. It’s imperative that you take notice of the different changes that may happen to your vision before the vision problems take flight. While you may not be able to 100% prevent these vision problems, one can at least lessen their chances and severity of the condition.

COMMON EYE CHANGES WITH AGE

Just as your health may vary when you reach around the age of 40, so will your vision. Around the age of 40 you will start to notice small changes in your vision. These changes can vary from blurred vision up close, eye strain, dryness, and much more. As you progress forward with age, these symptoms typically begin to worsen, if not properly taken care of. It is essential to attend an annual comprehensive eye exam to ensure these changing symptoms do not pose any serious threat to your vision. Although, one might think that elderly vision loss is a factor that cannot be avoided – statistics clearly state these facts are not completely accurate. Properly taking the initiative to consider eye health and taking the precautionary steps to maintain healthy vision can help decrease the impact of age effects on the eyes. Here are common signs of age-related changes that may affect your vision:

  • Reduced pupil size – this occurs due to the loss of muscle strength to control our pupil size which results to the reduced reaction to light.
  • Dry eyes – during the aging process our ability to produce tears reduces.
  • Peripheral vision loss – the initial size of our visual field decreases by one to three degrees every 10 years.
  • Decreased color vision – the vibrancy of colors decreases significantly due to cells in the retina decline in sensitivity.
  • Vitreous Detachment – the gel-like vitreous within our eyes starts to liquefy and pull away from the retina. This causes spots, floaters, and occasionally flashes of light.

COMMON AGE-RELATED DISEASES

Just like an unhealthy diet can cause health complications, unhealthy vision practices can lead to poor vision. It is imperative that you take the precautionary measures to try to avoid vision problems that may affect you in the future. Age-related diseases may emerge, and are more likely to emerge when you reach the age of 40 and may progressively worsen throughout the years, if not treated/monitored correctly. Here is a list of common age-related disease that may have you second guessing reading in a dim lit room or texting all day long:

Presbyopia:  Is the main cause of the inability to focus on close objects as you get older. This is due to the natural hardening of the lenses within your eye. This process begins at the age of 40, and increasingly worsens as you age. You will need reading glasses, multi-focal contact lenses, and multi-focal glasses for correction for this vision change. An alternative route for correction could be mono vision Lasik surgery that corrects the dominant eye for distance and the weaker eye for reading. As your age progresses, you’ll begin to notice that one prescription is not enough. You will be needing to obtain different prescriptions for different activities, such as, a different prescription for computers and driving.

Cataract: Cataract is an age-related disease, but it can be categorized as a normal aging change due to the condition being so common amongst seniors. The formation of these vision problems occur during the age of 65, and progressively increase through the age of 70. Statistically speaking, by the year of 2020, over 30 million of the U.S population will have cataracts. However, thanks to modern technology, there are surgeries that are now being implemented that can restore 100% vision that has been damaged from these common vision problems.

Macular Degeneration: Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of blindness within the elderly. It projected that nearly more than two million Americans today have these vision problems, and is expected to sky rocket to 5.4 million by 2050.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma is complex eye disease which causes optic nerve damage, visual field loss, and increased eye pressure. The chances of obtaining these vision problems increase by one percent every 10 years after the age of 40.

Eye Exercises

To increase your vision health and decrease your risk of age-related diseases, you can exercise your eyes to encourage good eye health. These eye exercises train your vision to accommodate every day obstacles that it may encounter. These eye exercises should be used when you begin to feel eye strain at 20 seconds apart from each eye exercise.

  1. Gaze into Darkness: While resting your elbows on the table, place the palms of your hands over your eyes. Close your eyes and gaze into the darkness for one to three minutes.
  2. While standing or siting up right, look straight ahead. Without moving your head look and focus on what you see to the left. Then mimicking the same instructions for the right side. Move your eyes side to side five times and repeat the cycle three times.
  3. While standing or siting up right, look straight ahead. Without moving your head look up and focus on what you see. Then repeating the movement when looking down. Move your eyes up and down five times and repeat the cycle three times.
  4. While standing or sitting up right, look to the left a slowly roll your eyes in a clock-wise circle. Do this eye exercise clock-wise five times and counterclockwise five times in three cycles.
  5. While closing your eyes, gently touch your eyelids and massage your eyes with circular movements. First clock-wise and then counterclockwise in increments of 10.

As eye exercises can decrease the cause of some age-related vision loss, the most important factor to remember is a healthy diet and annual exams. Annual exams are used to detect any health issues that may happen to the eye. The earlier one catches the eye disease, the better of a chance one will have in improving their vision. As the vision problems progress, the more of a chance one has at decreased vision loss. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you notice any abnormalities within your vision, or if you have concerns about your eye health.

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