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Generally, if a person never needed to have a pair of glasses and had 20/20 vision, even after hitting your older years, this would be a rare occurrence. Almost everyone eventually finds their eyes struggle to focus and they end up needing a pair of reading glasses or bifocals. Unfortunately, the deterioration of eyesight is a common issue that typically begins for patients around the age of 40 and continues to worsen until about the age of 65. Just like the rest of the human body, eyes do not stay physically strong forever. This makes the ability to focus on something in the distance and then transition focus to something up close up very challenging.

What Causes Presbyopia?

The most common diagnosis for worsening eyesight is called Presbyopia. A clear lens sits inside the eye behind your colored iris. It changes shape to focus light onto the retina so you can see. When you are young, the lens is soft and flexible, easily changing shape. This lets you focus on objects both close-up and far away. After age 40, the lens becomes more rigid. It cannot change shape as easily. This makes it harder to read, or do other close-up tasks. It might sound painful, but it is not, it is a progressive hardening of the lens over time.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of presbyopia start to become noticeable when the eyes struggle with the task of focusing on small print and near objects. There are variations of presbyopia that can manifest in different ways. It is important to draw more awareness to eye health and age-related conditions by familiarizing and gaining knowledge about the warning signs of vision loss. There is a difference between the signs of an eye condition and those of aging eyes, and it is important to be aware of this.

Some of the signs to be aware of relating to eye health and conditions developing include:
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Loss of side/peripheral vision
  • Viewing images that appear distorted
  • Seeing floaters/flashes.

Being aware of what is happening with your eyesight as you get older allows eye doctors to catch a condition early and treat it as soon as possible. The signs of aging eyes include:
  • Need for more light when trying to see something
  • Problems with seeing a glare
  • Changes in color perception
  • Difficulty reading or doing tedious work
  • Reduced tear production leaving eyes feeling dry

It is important to be aware that the symptoms relating to the aging process are unlikely to be detrimental, they are simply symptoms that naturally develop throughout the life journey.

Other Causes

Presbyopia is not the only cause of worsening eyesight. There are other causes for the loss of eyesight like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.

Glaucoma is when the blood pressure in your eyes increases, which results in loss of eyesight. People over the age of 60 are six times more likely to develop glaucoma than younger people.

Cataracts are likely to occur with age as well. This is when the lens of your eyes become opaque, resulting in loss of clarity in eyesight. Proteins build up and break apart on the lens of the eye, making it difficult for light to pass through to the retina, the part of the eye that creates images.

Macular degeneration is a disease that affects more Americans than glaucoma and cataracts combined. This is when the retina of the eye begins to deteriorate, eventually destroying vision completely.

Although these conditions related to aging eyes are what doctors consider to be the main causes associated with loss of eyesight; there are more subtle changes that can occur due to aging of the eye as well. These changes include: reduced pupil size, dry eyes, loss of peripheral vision, lack of color in vision, and vitreous detachment - which is a condition that results in seeing floaters/spots. These subtle changes are natural occurrences that correlate with aging.

Treatment and Prevention

There is no way to stop or reverse the normal aging process that causes presbyopia. However, the best way to treat presbyopia is by purchasing a pair of reading glasses, bifocals or contact lenses, depending on your specific issue. Reading glasses help correct close-up vision problems by bending (refracting) light before it enters your eye. When purchasing a pair of reading glasses there are many different strengths to choose from. The strength of reading glasses is based on the severity of vision loss. They can be bought without a prescription, but the specific power of reading glasses that you need should be determined by an eye exam. Similarly, bifocals correct for close-up and far vision. A line, which may or may not be visible, divides the lens. The bottom of the lens refracts light for close up vision. The top portion refracts light to allow you to see distant objects. If you do not correct presbyopia, you may be bothered by headaches and eye strain.

Although presbyopia is an unavoidable condition, here are some tips on how to prolong good vision and maintain eye health:
  • It is important to always visit an eye doctor once a year. This allows a patient’s eyesight to be monitored and observed, detecting any issues early
  • Wearing sunglasses is a great way to prevent eye damage because they help protect the eyes from UV rays
  • Avoiding smoking and make sure you practice healthy living and dietary habits as this will make your eyesight healthier as well

The eyesight decline occurs as a natural result of aging and will ultimately affect any person reaching advanced enough age. Despite how common presbyopia is, the exact mechanism behind it remains unknown.
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Anath Foundation

A portion of your purchase is donated to the Anath Foundation to help families on their cancer journey. Learn more about the impact of your purchase!

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