Changes throughout your body, from graying hair to chronic health conditions, are common with age. It's also common to notice changes in your vision the older you get. From a decrease in vision to eye diseases, these age-related issues can affect all aspects of your life. Learn more about the common vision changes that happen as you get older and what you can do to prevent or slow them.
Getting older often means your vision worsens. You might notice things are blurrier or that reading is more challenging. You can have general blurriness or vision loss in a particular area, such as central or peripheral vision loss. Others experience vision problems at night, especially while driving.
Other health problems you might experience as you get older can also affect your vision. Diabetes and hypertension can cause vision issues. Some medications you might take for various conditions can also affect your vision. Being aware of medication side effects and controlling your chronic conditions can help you minimize the impact on your vision.
Older adults face many potential eye problems related to age. Some of those conditions include:
Any changes to your vision as you age can impact your quality of life and safety. Low vision makes it more difficult to navigate your home and other locations. You might bump into things or have an increased risk of falls that could result in serious injury. Losing your vision can keep you from doing activities you enjoy, such as reading, and it can take away some of your freedom if you can no longer see well enough to drive. These changes can affect your mental health as well. You might feel isolated, lonely or depressed if your vision limits what you can do.
If you already have corrective lenses, you likely have regular eye exams to keep your prescription updated. However, regular eye exams are important for all older adults, even if you've never had glasses. Many eye diseases don't show symptoms in the early stages, when they're the most treatable. Ophthalmologists can run many tests to diagnose the diseases, even if you're not showing symptoms. You can receive treatment or take other steps to keep many eye conditions from progressing, which can help save your vision.
Once you reach age 65, yearly eye exams are recommended. If you have higher risks of eye conditions, your ophthalmologist might want you to come in more often. Dilated eye exams are important as you get older. Dilation widens your pupils and is how your eye doctor diagnoses many conditions early, including macular degeneration and glaucoma.
While you can't always prevent all eye conditions, you can protect your eye health as much as possible to minimize the effects. Some ways to protect your eye health as you age include:
If your vision decreases with age, there are things you can do to help with activities like reading. Wearing prescription glasses or reading glasses can help you overcome minor visual impairments. Magnifying tools can be helpful if you need more assistance reading. You can get handheld, stand and spectacle magnifiers. For a larger image, video magnification tools let you see the image on a screen. Electronic devices like e-books can also be useful since you can usually adjust the contrast and magnify the words on the screen.