Squinting your eyes to read signs while driving. Holding a book at arm’s length to see the words. Noticing dark spots—or cloudiness—coming across your vision. Many of us can relate: as we age, we may become aware of changes in our vision.
Some common conditions that can affect vision as we age include:
Floaters. These are dark, tiny spots or specks that move across your line of vision. People usually notice them in bright, well-lit rooms or outside on a sunny day. Floaters are normal and tend to come and go, so can usually be ignored. However, if you suddenly experience more—and they are accompanied by flashing lights—this could indicate a more serious condition, such as retinal detachment. You should go to your eye doctor as soon as possible.
Dry Eyes. This happens when your eyes don’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes moist. The fluid from tear ducts helps clear the eyes of dust, smoke and other irritants that dry out the eyes. Dry eyes can feel itchy, or sting and burn. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms. Treatment can be as simple as using a humidifier at home as well as eye drops that simulate tears. Surgery may be recommended if your condition is more severe.
Glaucoma. This condition occurs when too much fluid builds up in the eye, causing pressure. If it goes untreated, it can cause damage to the optic nerve, which can lead to permanent vision loss. Unfortunately, most people don’t experience any symptoms from glaucoma, so it’s very important to have your eyes checked regularly. If treated early, vision loss can be prevented.
Macular Degeneration. As we age, the macula—the center part of the retina that provides clear, sharp vision—can break down. This can cause blurry or distorted vision. Though the condition doesn’t lead to complete vision loss, it makes it difficult to do such things as reading, driving or even recognizing faces. Since macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in adults ages 50 and older, be sure to have eye exams in order to diagnose the issue.
Some eye problems may be more serious than others, but the important thing is to work with your doctor. Together, you can discuss a course of treatment that’s right for you.
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