Don’t ignore vision problems – get them diagnosed and treated now, so you can preserve your sight.
Once we get past 40, many of us have to reach for our reading glasses or turn up the lights to see clearly. Our near vision gets blurry, and we become more prone to age-related eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
What it is: A condition in which the eye loses its ability to focus clearly on objects close up.
What causes it: Age-related loss of elasticity in the lens – the part of the eye that provides focus.
How it’s treated: With bifocals, progressive lenses, or reading glasses. Some people who are also nearsighted correct one eye for near vision and the other for far, a combination called monovision.
What it is: A clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye, which focuses light on the retina. Cataracts cause fuzziness of vision, halos around lights, and less vivid colors. If left untreated, they can lead to blindness.
What causes it: Proteins on the lens start to clump together as we get older. As more proteins collect, vision is obscured. Diabetes, smoking, and excessive sunlight exposure can accelerate cataract formation.
How it’s treated: In the early stages, stronger glasses and better lighting can help. When vision loss interferes with your everyday activities, you’ll probably need surgery to replace the clouded lens with an artificial, clear one.
What it is: A buildup of fluid in the eye that increases pressure and damages the optic nerve.
What causes it: Being over age 60 increases the risk, as does a family history of glaucoma and conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
How it’s treated: Medicated eye drops are used to lower eye pressure. If drops don’ work, you may need surgery.
What it is: A lack of enough tears, or good-quality tears to lubricate the eye.
What causes it: Age being a women (hormonal changes during menopause increase the risk), certain medications such as blood pressure drugs and antidepressants, and environmental exposure such as smoke and dry air.
How it’s treated: Over-the-counter artificial tears or prescription eye drops can usually manage the condition. If these treatments don’t help, surgery can block the tear ducts and keep the natural tears in the eye.
Tips to preserve your vision
- Wear sunglasses to help prevent cataracts
- Eat a colorful diet that’s rich in green leafy vegetables, foods high in beta carotene
- Don’t smoke – it can increase your risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.
- When you work or read, look away from the page or computer screen every few minutes to avoid eyestrain.
- Wear protective eye wear when working in the yard or with tools.
- Have your eyes checked every year or two to ensure you’re wearing the right prescription.