Do you find that sometimes you have to hold a menu a little farther away? Or that headlights are blinding when you’re driving at night? Vision changes are common as we age. And, even if you’ve always had 20/20 vision, changes in your overall health can also affect your eyes. As you enter your 40s, it’s a good time to pay more attention to your eye health.
These three changes are common as we age:
- Difficulty Focusing Close-up
You may notice that your eyes feel strained after working at a computer all day. Are you holding books or notes farther away to focus better? As we age, the lens in our eye that helps us focus begins to harden. It’s less able to change shape to allow you to focus on objects at close range, according to the Mayo Clinic. Called presbyopia, this change begins to happen to many people in their 40s and worsens until the mid-60s. Chronic illnesses and certain medications can bring this change on early. Reading glasses, bifocals or contacts are usually enough to correct the change.
- Sensitivity to Glare
Trouble with glare from headlights or the sun’s reflection is another common vision change that comes with age. The lenses in your eyes change and may scatter light more, rather than focusing it on the retina. This causes you to see more glare, according to the American Optometric Association.
- Dry Eyes
Hormone changes, especially for women, can cause reduced tear production, according to All About Vision. Dry eyes can lead to redness and irritation. Some medications, such as diuretics and antidepressants, can worsen the problem. In mild cases, lubricating eye drops give relief. If your symptoms are more severe, your eye doctor may suggest prescription treatment options.
Eyes and Your Health
Even if you aren’t experiencing vision changes, your eyes can be affected by your overall health. While the previous three changes are a normal part of aging, the following three could be signs of a more serious condition:
- Loss of Peripheral Vision
This is a sign of glaucoma, a condition in which the optic nerve is damaged, usually because of high pressure in the eye. Diabetes and heart disease are risk factors for glaucoma, as the Mayo Clinic Getting a regular eye exam to catch it early is the best way to delay complete loss of vision in one or both eyes.
- Fluctuating Changes in Vision
High blood pressure and other chronic conditions can cause changes in how well you see. Sometimes these conditions can damage the blood vessels in your retina, leading to permanent vision damage. Staying vigilant about managing chronic conditions can help lessen the chances of vision problems.
- Seeing Distorted Images
Seeing straight lines as wavy or empty spots in the center of your field of vision is a sign of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a leading cause of vision loss, and it’s more common with aging. However, the American Optometric Association reports that healthy lifestyle habits can help lessen your risk of developing the condition.
Managing Your Eye Health
The best way to manage any eye condition is with early detection, which includes getting an eye exam every year. Vision insurance can help cover the cost of an exam, as well as provide you with discounts on glasses or other services. Even if you’ve overlooked these benefits in the past, now may be the time to make your eye health a priority. Watch this video to understand more about what vision benefits offer and to help you decide whether you want to add them during the annual Open Enrollment period in spring.