Age-Related Declines Can Begin At Any Age
If you haven’t yet done it yourself, you’ve certainly seen a friend or family member do it: when squinting no longer brings a restaurant menu or text message into focus, holding it farther and farther from your face seems to help. Difficulty focusing on objects up close is a symptom of presbyopia, a perfectly normal vision disorder that commonly emerges as we get older. Even those who enjoyed perfect eyesight in their first 40+ years may see age-related declines as the eye’s lens becomes more rigid and the muscles responsible for properly focusing light on the retina get weaker.
When your arms’ length becomes no match for your eyesight, it is time to consider vision correction. Reading glasses are a quick and easy solution, but a trip to an optometrist is still a good idea to ensure you do not over or under correct. Doing either by guessing with a pair of “drug-store readers” can dramatically increase the rate at which your unaided vision declines. If you already wear glasses or contact lenses for distance vision correction, there are a wide variety of multifocal contacts and progressive lenses to choose from.
As we get older, we may also notice decreased peripheral vision, decreased color vision, and greater sensitivity to light. Like presbyopia, these subtle and gradual changes are a very normal part of the aging process. But even if you are not experiencing vision trouble, regular eye exams are more important than ever as time marches on. A few serious age-related disorders such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy can develop without any noticeable symptoms but will severely impair vision if not treated in a timely manner. Plus, many other systemic diseases such as high blood pressure or rheumatoid arthritis can show symptoms during an eye exam long before they can be easily detected in other health exams.
Unfortunately, some normal changes in vision are simply unavoidable as we all get older, but a healthy lifestyle that includes proper eye protection and a good diet can go a long way in minimizing the impact of age-related vision loss. And of course, you should contact an optometrist immediately if you ever experience any acute eye pain or sudden changes in vision.