Our bodies are constantly changing in every stage of life. From birth to old age, there’s no stopping. Your high school health course may have taught you that your body stops changing after puberty, but it’s simply not true!
Did you know that your nose and ears are constantly growing throughout your entire life? That’s insane!
However when we talk about our bodies constantly changing, we don’t only mean in a pubescent sense. Our bodies unfortunately also deteriorate. As we age, we get wrinkles and flabby skin and our metabolism slows down.
And our eyes change so much that you probably won’t even remember what your young eyes used to be like. Aging eyes are normal eyes, but it isn’t always easy to know what’s normal and what isn’t normal when it comes to aging. Is it normal to have blurred vision? Is it normal to develop a light sensitivity?
Well that’s what we’re here to find out today. Join us and discover what is and what isn’t normal for aging eyes.
Presbyopia is the vision condition no one can escape. Just like aging itself, presbyopia will affect everyone at some point. It isn’t a dangerous vision condition, meaning it won’t damage your eyes but it will have you longing for your young eyes back.
Presbyopia is the natural hardening of the lens of the eye. As we age, we begin to lose flexibility of the lens. This means that our eyes have more difficulty focusing, especially on objects that are near the eye. Often presbyopia is treated with reading glasses and contact lenses.
Presbyopia seems to take effect after the age of 40. If you’re above the age of 40 and have noticed that your eyes are having trouble focusing or notice that your prescription eye wear no longer correct your vision, you may have presbyopia.
Talk to your doctor about getting the right prescription for you.
2. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
You may have guessed this would have been on the list. It does have the words, “age-related” in it. AMD, like presbyopia is not a disease that can be warded off. It will eventually affect everyone of a certain age, however it is possible to delay and slow down the disease before it claims your vision.
AMD refers to the natural aging of the macula, which is the most sensitive part of the retina. As the macula ages, it slowly diminishes and can gravely affect a person’s central vision. The disease is most commonly brought on by age, but can also be the result of an eye injury.
AMD can slowly progress over a long period of time, but it can also progress quickly and cause blank spots in your central vison. This disease will not lead to complete blindness, but if it is allowed to progress to a late stage, you won’t have enough vision to do regular daily activities like reading, driving or seeing faces.
Early stages of AMD often develop with no symptoms at all, which is why a comprehensive eye exam is required to properly diagnose the disease. Otherwise, later stages of the disease will result in diminished central vision.
3. Dry Eye
Dry eye is a condition that is extremely common as we age. As we age, our body loses the ability to produce enough moisture. When this happens, the body is also not producing enough tears for the eyes.
When not enough tears are produced, they evaporate more quickly leaving the eyes feeling dry and uncomfortable. Dry eyes can make working on the computer or reading very difficult. They can also lead to a stinging or burning sensation.
Dry eye is often treated with artificial eye drops that act as tears for the eyes. Though this is a good option for some quick relief, especially if you’ve spent all day in front of a computer, omega-3s can provide a more substantial solution.
Omega-3s help natural tear production. They can be found in eggs, salmon, flaxseeds and fish oil supplements. As an added bonus, omega-3s can also help prevent age-related eye diseases like AMD.
4. Loss of Muscle Strength in the Eye
As we age, our eye muscles begin to weaken. When this happens, it can affect how quickly our pupils respond to light.
This weakness causes the pupil to reduce in size and becomes slower to react to different types of lighting. This is why many elderly people have difficulty seeing in or are sensitive to bright lights. The pupil won’t dilate to allow the right amount of light into the eye.
For this, an anti-reflective coating can be added to eyewear. This will help the eye adjust to their surrounding quicker without any hassle.
5. Diminished Peripheral Vision
As we age our peripheral vision diminishes approximately one to three degrees every decade that we are alive. It may not seem like much, but by the time most of us reach the age of 70, our peripheral vision will have lost 20 to 30 degrees of vision field.
This is especially dangerous when driving. So if you’re still driving at the age of 70, kudos to you, first of all, but also be careful to really check those blind spots. Or, you can buy extra mirrors that attach onto the ones already on the car to have your entire field of vision covered.
Abnormal Aging Vision
Now you know what to expect from aging vision. But what isn’t normal? What should you be looking for that can lead to more serious age-related vision problems?
- Floaters and flashes: Some floaters and flashes are normal in your vision. They’re often just shadows of things that are floating around in the fluid of the eye and it’s really no big deal. However, if you notice a higher number of floaters than usual and frequent flashing in your vision, this could be a sign of a detached retina. Talk to your eye doctor immediately.
- Sudden loss of peripheral vision: This one may be a little confusing. Yes, a gradual loss of your peripheral vision is a normal part of aging, but if it happens suddenly it may have been caused by glaucoma. Have your eye doctor perform a comprehensive glaucoma exam so that you can diagnose the disease and begin treating it as soon as possible. Glaucoma can lead to blindness.
- Gray in the pupil of the eye: If you wake up one morning and notice that there’s a bit of gray in the pupil of your eye (which should normally be black), then you may be developing a cataract. Cataracts form on the lens of the eye and can blur and cloud your vision. The proper corrective eyewear and diet can help to alleviate the symptoms of the disease.
There’s no reason to be afraid of aging as long as you take care of your body. Your body was able to take care of itself when it was young, but now it needs your help. After the age of 40 it is recommended that you receive an eye exam at least once a year to catch any age-related issues early.