As our bodies age, it is normal to notice decreases in our ability to complete certain functions that may have been natural for us in our youth. Several different factors influence how each of us will experience aging. Your genetics can be important: does Glaucoma or Macular Degeneration run in your family? Understanding your family history and communicating this with your health professional can be a great way to monitor changes and spot early signs and symptoms. Below are a few brief descriptions of what can affect our eyes as we age.
Once you are over 40 years old, you may experience a loss in vision at close range. Presbyopia is a normal condition that occurs due to the hardening of the lens in your eye. In the early stages, you can often compensate for small changes to your vision. As the condition progresses, however, you will likely need a corrective lens or choose a surgical procedure such as Lasik, corneal inlays, refractive lens exchange, or conductive keratoplasty.
Cataracts are technically a disease of the eye, but they are so frequently seen in aging patients that they are classified as a normal part of getting older. While almost half of the population over 65 has cataracts, that number increases even more by age 70. While it can be frightening to begin losing your vision, cataract surgery is extremely successful and can restore up to 100% of the lost vision. If you notice even small changes to your vision, it is smart to talk to your doctor. Cataract surgery is best performed when the cataracts are small and can be more easily removed.
This disease is the leading cause of blindness in senior citizens in the United States.
The risk of developing glaucoma generally begins when you are in your 40s, with a near one percent chance, and increases throughout the decades with a twelve percent chance by the time you are in your 80s.
Individuals who have diabetes may be affected by diabetic retinopathy. This disease occurs when blood sugar levels are elevated for an extended period, causing damage to the eye. This damage may lead to permanent vision loss. Americans over the age of 40 with diabetes are at an increased risk, with about 40 percent of people over this age with diabetes displaying some degree of diabetic retinopathy.
The previous examples are what we normally imagine when we think about age-related issues and our eyes, but there are other changes that also occur. Some of these can be treated with over-the-counter medications or eye drops, while others are a natural part of aging.
Our bodies naturally decrease tear production as we age. This reduction can leave your eyes feeling dry. Fortunately, you can use an eye drop or artificial tears solution to keep your eyes moist and free from discomfort.
Our peripheral field of vision gradually decreases as we age. Researchers suggest that the rate is between 1-3 percent of that field of vision per decade of our life. This means that, by the time you reach your 70s or 80s, your peripheral vision could be reduced by as much as 20 to 30 degrees.