Do you want healthy eyes? What to Know From 40 – Harvard Health Blog
Has the print on that label suddenly shrunk? If you’re 40 or older, you may have asked yourself this question in an effort to read something you could clearly see.
Blame your eyes for aging. Like our joints, our eyes experience age-related changes. While eye problems can affect people of any age, some conditions are more common after the age of 40.
Aging? Three common eye conditions
Presbyopia. The lens of the eye is harder with age, which makes it harder to focus on nearby objects – hence the struggle to read the label. A lot of people are happy to see reading with cheap glasses, but once you have them, it’s time to look at the middle ground.
Cataracts. Another common condition that can arise as you get older is cataracts, a cloud of eye lens that can damage your eyesight. Cataracts usually affect half of people between the ages of 65 and 74. Treatment usually requires an outpatient surgical procedure to replace the unscented lens.
Dry eye syndrome. This condition affects more than 15 million adults in the United States, and is due to reduced tear production. With less natural lubrication, the eyes may become irritated, sticky or cause a burning sensation or friction in the eyes. Depending on the severity, the symptoms can be treated using eye drops that simulate your natural tears, a topical medication, or a device to increase tear production.
Additional eye conditions that may occur with age or disease
Rear glass detachment (PVD). Signs of this condition include visual disturbances such as light streaks, floats, or seeing a fog-like web. It happens because a substance like gelatin called glass in the eye begins to liquefy and contract, because it pulls on the retina.
Call your medical team immediately if you notice these signs. While most PVD sufferers do not require treatment, in some cases the glass can completely release or extract the retina. A tear or detachment can cause loss of vision, and laser procedures or surgery must be performed to fix the problem, according to the American Retinal Specialists Association.
Glaucoma. Another more common condition after age 40 is glaucoma. This asymptomatic condition damages the optic nerve that transmits information from your eyes to your brain. When left untreated, glaucoma can lead to loss of peripheral or central vision. Most often, glaucoma is treated with eye drops recipes designed to reduce your eye pressure. Less likely, your doctor may recommend a laser procedure or surgery.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This condition causes degeneration of the retina, a thin layer of tissue in the back of the eye. Cells that are sensitive to light from the retina capture images and transmit them to the brain via the optic nerve. It affects a central part of the retina called the AMD macula. It can cause blurred or distorted vision, and possibly a blind spot in the person’s field of vision. Treatments, medications, or laser therapy can often help prevent or at least delay vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy. This condition also causes damage to the retina. Controlling blood sugar and blood pressure in people with diabetes helps prevent diabetic retinopathy. If detected, your eye specialist will recommend treatment, usually eye injections or laser therapy.
Easy ways to maintain eye health
Many eye conditions can be effectively treated to protect your eyesight if caught early. That’s why it’s wise to do regular eye exams, identify potential problems, and deal with them before they affect your vision.
You can also take other steps to keep your eyes healthy, such as exercising, eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays.