Some things get better with age — wine, friendships, fine leather — but unfortunately, your eyes are not one of them.
As you age, it’s normal to experience changes in your vision. You may find it more difficult to focus on things up close, have trouble adjusting to changing light, or struggle to distinguish colors.
These are all common changes and can be easily corrected with glasses, contacts, or increased lighting.
But some other conditions and diseases become a greater risk for your eyes and vision as you age.
Let’s take a look at:
- Common age-related vision changes,
- Age-related eye diseases, and
- What you can do to protect your eyes.
Common age-related vision changes
Shortly after the age of 40, you may notice that it’s more difficult to focus on objects up close.
You may need to hold your phone or books further away than usual to read them, or have to put on or take off your glasses to see things clearly. You may also complain about headaches or eye strain.
This is because of a process called presbyopia. Normally, the clear lens in your eye changes shape to focus light onto the retina so that you can see. When you’re young, the lens is soft and flexible and can change shape easily. However, after the age of 40, the lens becomes more rigid and struggles to adapt its shape to help your eyes focus.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to stop or completely reverse presbyopia. Eventually, you may need to invest in reading glasses, or progressive or multifocal contacts.
Aging is the most common cause of cataracts. Around the age of 40, normal proteins in the lens of your eye start to break down, causing the lens to become cloudy. Some cataracts remain small and don’t affect your vision, while others can grow large and cause your vision to become cloudy or hazy.
Age-related cataracts generally develop gradually. If you have cataracts, your eye doctor will watch for changes and let you know if you need cataract surgery, which can help restore your vision.
Dry eye syndrome
Dry eye syndrome is different from occasionally having dry eyes. Dry eye syndrome occurs when your eyes do not produce enough tears to lubricate themselves, causing feelings of burning, stinging, or other discomfort.
Aging significantly increases your chance of experiencing dry eye syndrome. Studies have found that dry eye prevalence increases in women and men every five years after the age of 50, with greater prevalence in women compared to men.
Thankfully, dry eye syndrome does not cause vision loss or blindness, but it may cause significant discomfort. You can use a home humidifier, special eye drops, or ointments for dry eyes to help relieve discomfort. In severe cases, your eye doctor may recommend prescription medication, tear duct plugs, or surgery.
Age-related eye diseases
Glaucoma is a disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve. The optic nerve is made up of a million tiny nerve fibers; you can think of it as an electrical cable connecting the back of your eye to your brain.
Your eye is constantly producing and draining fluid, but when the fluid doesn’t drain properly, it builds up, creating increased pressure and potentially damaging the optic nerve.
Your risk of developing glaucoma increases with each decade after age 40, from around 1% in your 40s to up to 12% in your 80s.
If not treated, glaucoma can lead to vision loss or even blindness. People with glaucoma often have no symptoms or pain. Protect yourself by visiting the eye doctor and having dilated exams yearly.
Age-related macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that can blur your central vision and is the leading cause of vision loss for older adults. While it doesn’t cause complete blindness, it can be severely debilitating. People with AMD may find it more difficult to read, drive, see faces, or do up-close work like sewing, cooking, or working around the house.
AMD occurs when aging causes damage to the macula — the part of the eye that controls sharp, straight-ahead vision. The macula is part of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.
As you get older, it’s important to speak to your eye doctor about your risk of developing AMD. People ages 55 and older are more likely to develop AMD, as well as those with a family history of the disease, or who smoke.
How to protect your eye health as you age
Aging doesn’t always harm your vision, but your risk of certain conditions can increase as you get older. The good news is that there are many things you can do at any age to help promote the health of your eyes and protect your vision for the future.
- If you smoke, it’s time to quit: Smoking increases your risk of eye diseases that can lead to vision loss, such as cataracts or age-related macular degeneration.
- Protect your eyes from UV radiation: Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can greatly affect the health of your eyes. Wear a hat or sunglasses while outside, and opt for contacts that have built-in UV protection.
- Aveo daily contacts offer Class II UV blockers that protect your eyes from 97% of UVB and 87% of UVA radiation.
- Eat for eye health: Certain foods promote eye health, and others do the opposite. Focus on incorporating eye-healthy foods into your diet.
- Protect your eyes from digital eye strain: Staring at a screen all day can do a number on your eyes. Even if you have to be on the computer for several hours a day, there are many ways to protect your eyes from computer eye syndrome.
- Choose daily contacts: Daily contacts are the best choice for your eye health. Popping in a new pair of lenses each morning means that the lenses are fresh and clean, and throwing them out each night means you’re throwing away all of the buildup and allergens they may have gathered throughout the day.
- Aveo daily contacts take eye health one step further, with leading-edge technology that puts your eye health first, such as AquaLock to lock in moisture and BlissEdge for a frictionless, stay-put fit.
The bottom line
As you get older, your body changes — including your eyes. After the age of 40, your risk of developing eye conditions and diseases that affect your vision greatly increases. Nevertheless, making choices that promote eye health and scheduling regular comprehensive eye exams can help you spot any potential problems early on.
Ready to take the first step towards healthier, happier eyes? Get started with 10 pairs of our premium daily contacts for only $5!