Aging Vision Rate Rapidly Increasing in the U.S.

Aging Vision Rate Rapidly Increasing in the U.S.

It’s no secret that Americans are living longer. That’s great news, right? Modern medicine is certainly helping us live happier and healthier lives. With an aging population, though, comes some more concerning statistics. Age-related eye diseases, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma, are becoming more prevalent each year. The number of people affected by these aging vision problems continues to grow. According to the CDC, approximately 20.5 million people over the age of 40 in the U.S. have cataracts. Experts expect this number will increase to 30 million by 2028 — a staggering 50 percent increase. Three million people have glaucoma and another three million will be diagnosed with macular degeneration this year.

Those are some serious numbers and it’s important to understand what can be done to lower them. While many eye problems cannot be completely cured, some can be prevented or have their onset delayed or the severity lessened. You can lower your risk of developing these eye problems by making a few lifestyle changes and scheduling regular eye exams.

No age group is exempt from eye disease. We all have to be careful, and that includes the elderly, Baby Boomers, GenX-ers, Millennials, and sadly, even children. But alarmingly, people are developing eye and vision problems such as cataracts at younger ages now. Macular degeneration can affect younger patients, as well. That’s why it’s especially important to take precautions as early as possible to ensure your eyes remain healthy and strong for as long as possible.

Most Common Aging Vision Problems

Aging Vision Rate Rapidly Increasing in the U.S.Cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration are among the most common eye problems that aging people deal with each year. It’s important to take care of your eyes early in life so you can avoid many of these problems later on. While most people associate these problems with old age, younger people can develop them, too.

Young people can develop cataracts, especially if they are already nearsighted. The blurry vision that is caused by cataracts can be managed at first by changing your eyeglass prescription. However, as the condition progresses, it may interfere with being able to perform day-to-day activities. At that point, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.

Is Surgery the Answer… or Even a Possibility?

Cataract surgery is a very common procedure. It can be completed in as little as 30 minutes in a doctor’s office and is considered to be extremely safe. The doctor will go in and remove the cataract and then replace it with an artificial lens, which can be adjusted to correct your vision. This surgery has a high success rate. Most people who have the surgery performed report that they can actually see better after the surgery than they have in a long time.

Unfortunately, doctors can’t fix glaucoma as easily because damage to the optic nerve causes this disease. Glaucoma can cause vision loss and is the leading cause of blindness.  One warning sign is a decline in peripheral vision in one or both eyes. There is no way to reverse the effects of the disease, but it is possible to delay its progression. The first step is to have regular eye exams to monitor the glaucoma and to check for any additional vision problems. The test for glaucoma is quick and painless. The doctor will have you rest your face in a device that measures the pressure in your eyes.

Preventative Measures

It is recommended that you have an eye exam every two to four years between the ages of 40-54. If you are between 55-64, the frequency increases to every one to three years and every one to two years for ages 65 and older. If you are at risk for developing age-related eye diseases or glaucoma, you should be seen more frequently.

It is important to stick to these recommendations so that glaucoma can be detected as early as possible. That way, treatments can begin to delay the progression of the disease. Eye drops may help relieve pressure on the eyes or sometimes surgery or laser treatment can help reduce the pressure.

With age-related macular degeneration, the retinal cells begin to deteriorate which can lead to vision loss and blindness. However, if doctors catch this disease early, you can maintain good vision with proper treatment. It’s all about an early diagnosis and the type of AMD you develop. Treatment depends on whether you have dry or wet macular degeneration.

Preserving Your Eyesight

Other than receiving regular eye exams and getting treatments for any existing eye problems, you can stave off eye diseases with proper nutrition. Eating foods that contain antioxidants including vitamins A and E, lutein, beta carotene, copper, zeaxanthin and zinc, can boost your eye health and improve your vision. In addition to eating foods that contain these nutrients, you can also take daily vitamin supplements to ensure you are getting the needed amounts of each of these nutrients. In fact, nutritional therapy is a recommended treatment for dry macular degeneration.

Stay vigilant! You should also pay special attention to any changes in your vision. If your vision becomes blurry or you begin seeing spots or anything else unusual, see your eye doctor for an exam as there may be a problem. If you are a smoker, quitting will decrease your risk of developing eye diseases and other vision problems. Losing weight if you are obese and controlling high blood pressure or blood sugars if you’re diabetic will also decrease your risks. Always protect your eyes from the sun with UV-blocking sunglasses. These lifestyle tweaks can make a huge difference.

Don’t Become Another Statistic!

There are many factors that can cause these eye disorders. While the most commonly associated culprits are age and chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes, there are other causes. Among those are heredity, excessive use of steroids, high consumption of alcohol, and over-exposure to sunlight.

You can prevent or at least stave off the onset of these conditions by taking steps to save your eyesight. If more people take care of their eye health to preserve their vision for as long as possible, the number of incidents of eye diseases, loss of vision, and blindness will decrease. Do everything you can to protect your precious eyesight — regardless of your age!

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Join or Start the Discussion

  1. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Liz says:

    I am very hopeful that by 2032 thrre will be a cure for blindness.

  2. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Marian says:

    I would like to add one more eye problem that arises mainly during old age is the Dry Eye syndrome. People usually consider it as a minor disease but who are affected by it knows how irritating and painful it is. My mom was having the problem for a year or so. Finally was treated at Evergreen Eye Center, Washington, where a new treatment has been found, named LipiFlow. It treats the root cause of the dry eye and hence is very effective.
    To prevent dry eye one has to take in large quantities of water, fish (mainly wild salmon), fresh vegetables etc. One should also make sure that they give proper rest to eyes and also give good exercise for them.

  3. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen lonnie says:

    could you tell me of there is any thing I can do
    about night blindness I eat very healthy and
    sleep 8 hours every night I’m 71 and it stared
    about 8 years ago by now I do not drive at night

  4. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Elle Fagan says:

    I am your fan – vision is the last of our senses to function fully and the first with hearing to begin to fail even for people with no special issues in their “prime” – I want to thank you – both my parents had higher than normal vision quality but used it, in work to 1000ths of a inch at times , so they both needed a prescription lens sooner than I have so far.

    At 67, normal readers have been doing it.

    But I budget my close work time online and at the easel – I am pro arts.
    Matisse said older artists simple “paint bigger pictures” – to get around the vision issue, but it’s more than that.

    Added to nutrients is REST for the eye – even patch up one at time, and budget close work time and SLEEP. Sleep is your friend.

    Older people often do not sleep due to the fact that they do not burn up their calories or tire themselves all day and this is not good.

    It is another reason that walking or senior fitness is recommended – because that sleep time and wake time is important for a long list of health things including Alzheimers.

    Thanksomuch – bottomline? MOST of aging’s failings can be won through till true old age sets in. Do it.

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About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics (just like his brother) with the dream of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he joined Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent nearly two decades studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.


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