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There are several eye-related problems that cause issues with vision. These include lifestyle, diet, the environment, and aging. Of these, aging is easily the most difficult to avoid. This is to be expected because with age comes changes. The only challenge is that these changes lead to the weakening of vision.

How Age Affects Your Eyes

Changes in vision usually occur by the time an individual reaches his/her early 40s. This is usually the age at which people start using reading glasses to enable them to see smaller prints, such as those used in computers, phones, books, contracts, magazines, and manuals, even if they did not have this problem before. By their 40s, people may have already developed certain health issues and conditions that contribute to problems with vision. These may include:

-Years of working in an occupation that is demanding or hazardous to the eyes-Development of health conditions such as high cholesterol, anxiety, depression, thyroid, high blood pressure, and arthritis-Genetics, such as a history of macular degeneration or glaucoma in the family

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Any of these conditions can and will contribute to the decline of ones vision. Like everything else in the body, the eyes also undergo changes. Some individuals, for example, experience dry eye issues from time to time. With age, this problem becomes far more frequent, often prompting many people to use artificial tears to avoid discomfort and redness.

Conditions That Affect Vision Due to Aging

There are several conditions that lead to problems with the eyes as one ages. These are:

Floaters

Floaters appear like dark or shadowy particles (usually thread-like, squiggly, or gray dots) that float in front of your eyes. They usually shift and move up and down or side to side when you move or blink your eyes. These are fairly common among older individuals and while they are annoying, they are not dangerous. If you are particularly bothered by their presence, you could see an ophthalmologist who might prescribe drops to help minimize the floaters.

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Note: If you notice a sudden increase in the number of floaters you see and they are accompanied by spots or flashes, go see an ophthalmologist right away. These symptoms may signal a tear in your retina and should be checked by an eye doctor as soon as possible.

Myopia (Near Sightedness)

If you are nearsighted, objects will appear clearer the closer they are to you. With aging, you will notice that objects from a distance will no longer appear as clear and distinct as they used to. Changes in the shape of the eye cause the rays of light to bend incorrectly, forcing the images to be focused in front of the retina instead of on it. This makes an object in the distance appear blurry.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia is the inability to see nearby objects and fine print. It develops in individuals around their mid-40s and will gradually worsen over time. Presbyopia is considered normal and it happens gradually. In fact, it will likely remain unnoticed until you reach at least 35 or 40. If you have presbyopia, you may have to hold a book or magazine away from your face to read the words or view the images clearly.

Being presbyopic is not the same as being far-sighted, although far-sightedness can increase ones risk of developing presbyopia.

Cataracts

Cataracts refer to the condition of the eyes wherein the lens develops cloudy areas that interfere with normal vision. A cataract blocks light from entering the lens, causing blurry vision. This condition is not painful and does not come with symptoms such as tearing or redness. Cataracts usually develop slowly and do not grow to cover the lens of the eyes completely, so they do not bother the individual. In some cases, however, the cataract may become bigger or thick, significantly causing vision problems that are serious enough to require surgery.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma refers to an eye condition characterized by optic nerve damage which can lead to permanent blindness.

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The condition is not accompanied by symptoms but is usually associated with certain risk factors, such as age, race, heredity, and diabetes. It may also be caused by some types of medications.

Because it does not have symptoms, glaucoma can only be detected through an eye exam. An ophthalmologist will check the patients visual field, assess eye pressure, and identify any issues that may be present in the structure of the eye itself.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration refers to the degradation of the macula, which is a section found in the middle of the retina. The macula contains millions of nerve cones that are light-sensitive. This is the part of the eye that allows us to identify small details. With age, the macula degenerates due to a reduction of the number of nerve cones. This causes distorted or blurry vision, particularly in the central section.

Although macular degeneration does not lead to complete blindness, it will make it more difficult to visually identify images in the center. The peripheral or side vision, however, will remain normal. In its early stages, macular degeneration can be managed using nutritional supplements that slow the development of the condition. Some medications may also work in reducing abnormal blood vessels within the retina. One of these medications, known as anti-VEGF drugs, is injected into the eye using a fine needle.

Managing Age-Related Vision Problems

There are treatments and lifestyle changes that can be used to manage vision problems due to aging. Here are some approaches to consider:

-Use more light.Reading and working will be easier if you use more lights to help you see clearly. If you work with words or images, installing brighter lights can help ease eye strain and stress.

-Wear prescription lenses.The correct prescription lenses will help you see things more clearly. Through an eye exam, the optometrist or ophthalmologist can determine the proper prescription or grade for you to use.

-Adjust image size.Changing the size of the letters and images on a computer, tablet, or smartphone can make reading and working easier. Adjusting the position of the computer monitor can also help immensely. By positioning it closer (but at a safe distance), images and texts on the screen will appear clearer.

-Using artificial tears.Dry eyes feel irritated. To prevent discomfort, using artificial tears will help refresh the eyes and supplement the tears that the eyes naturally produce. In the absence of eye drops, blinking more frequently will also help moisturize the eyes.

-Eating healthy.Studies have shown that certain fruits and vegetables, along with certain supplements, promote healthier eyes. These include vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Adding fish, yellow-orange fruits and vegetables, and dark leafy greens to a nutrient-rich diet can also be beneficial.

-Getting regular eye checkups.People age 40 and older should get a regular eye checkup once every two years at the minimum if they have no symptoms or are at low risk. If you are at moderate to high risk, get a checkup every year at least, or as your doctor recommends.


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