The vision changes after 40 years? Here’s what you need to know |

Your late 30s and early 40s are likely to be a busy and demanding time. With work responsibilities and raising children, life is stressful enough. This is probably the last time in your life that you will face an optical condition, but unfortunately this is the age when most people start to see their vision decline.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) suggests everyone see an eye doctor for a basic screening for eye disease at age 40, even if there are no apparent problems with their vision. Eye degeneration begins gradually in childhood, but many eye diseases take time to develop into noticeable symptoms. An eye screening will give your doctor a baseline of your overall eye health, making it easier to spot changes in years to come.

Ocular degeneration is a natural process that accelerates with age. Even if you lived your youth with perfect vision, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll need some type of corrective lens to help you perform near visual tasks such as reading and surfing the web. Annual eye exams are strongly recommended in the years after 40, as it is not uncommon for middle-aged people to constantly need to change their prescriptions. to maintain comfortable and efficient vision.

Aside from ordinary vision decline, there are a few eye conditions you may want to watch out for. However, even if you are genetically predisposed to having one or more of these conditions, they may not affect you until you approach middle age. In this article, we’ll cover the signs and symptoms of each, as well as what you can do about them.

Cataracts

Our eyes work by using a natural lens to focus the light interpreted by our optic nerves. Like a camera lens, our lens needs to be clear to work best. The AAO defines a cataract as “when the natural lens of your eye becomes cloudy.” This is caused by the breakdown of the proteins that your lens is made of. Cataracts can be genetic or caused by excessive sun exposure, medical conditions such as diabetes, smoking, or certain corticosteroids.

Seeing with a cataract is like looking through a fogged up window. Images will look blurry and colors may be dull. You may also become oversensitive to light, have difficulty seeing at night, and have blurred or double vision.

Treatment

Cataracts can be diagnosed by your eye doctor through a retinal exam, slit lamp exam, or visual acuity and reaction test. With annual eye exams, cataracts can be treated. It is advisable to quit smoking after a cataract diagnosis, protect the eyes from sun exposure, use brighter lights for reading, and always use corrective glasses.

Cataract surgery is an option for people unable to manage daily life with their symptoms. During surgery, your eye doctor will remove your natural cloudy eye lens and replace it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens. It is important to discuss the risks with your surgeon before the procedure.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia is the gradual increase in difficulty seeing objects up close. Presbyopia is an all-natural and inevitable part of aging, although it is worse in some people than others.

Presbyopia is another condition of the lens of your eye. Since the lens of your eye is instrumental in focusing light, it must change shape to accommodate the correct refraction of light from objects based on their distance from the eye. When you’re young, your lens is soft and flexible, easily changing focus. However, after 40 years the lens becomes stiffer, increasing the difficulty of focusing on closer objects.

Treatment

The short answer to natural presbyopia treatment is that everyone will likely need reading glasses at some point in their lives. It may be an adjustment if you’ve never had them, but your eyes will thank you. Reading glasses can be purchased without a prescription, but the strength of the lens you need may vary for each eye and should always be determined by an eye exam.

Surgery is also an answer to natural presbyopia but is unnecessary in most cases. Refractive surgery involves sculpting one cornea for clear distance vision and the other for clear near vision. Corneal inlays are a newer option, which are corneal implants that help correct presbyopia.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve in the eye, the bundle of nerves that transmits visual information to your brain, due to fluid buildup in the eye. Human eyes constantly produce aqueous humor, a transparent fluid that keeps the eye round and healthy, which is also continuously drained to keep intraocular pressure stable.

When fluid cannot drain effectively through the drainage angle of the eye, pressure builds up in the eye, which presses on and damages the optic nerve. The causes and types of glaucoma vary, but some people are genetically predisposed to be sensitive to normal levels of intraocular pressure.

Treatment

There are several types of glaucoma, which vary in severity of symptoms. Glaucoma can be extremely difficult to detect until the damage is already done, so regular visits to your eye doctor after age 40 are essential to detect even the smallest of indications. Glaucoma is most often treated with medicated eye drops designed to reduce intraocular eye pressure. However, laser eye surgery and surgery in the operating room are also effective long-term solutions.

Macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common condition and the leading cause of vision decline in people over 50. It is the degeneration of vision in the central field of vision while peripheral vision can still function properly.

AMD is a progressive breakdown of the macula, the part of the retina responsible for interpreting light into your central vision. You may experience blurring, dark spots, and distorted vision with macular degeneration. There are two types of AMD, wet AMD and dry AMD, but both are difficult to spot until one has blurred vision.

Treatment

As always, it is imperative to schedule annual visits to the ophthalmologist because AMD, like all eye diseases, is very elusive until it is too late. AMD can be diagnosed with an Amsler grid test, optical coherence tomography (OCT), or fluorescein angiography administered by an ophthalmologist.

A healthy lifestyle in general can help you avoid AMD. Obesity, high fat diets, smoking, high blood pressure, heart disease, and genetic predispositions all put you at increased risk of developing AMD. Supplements such as vitamin C, E, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and copper slow down and reduce the progression of AMD.

On a case-by-case basis, AMD can be improved with laser surgery or anti-VEGF drugs. Seeing a vision rehabilitation specialist can help you overcome AMD by helping you strengthen your peripheral vision through vision exercises.

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