Presbyopia: Between the ages of 40 and 45, presbyopia starts to set in. This means it gets harder to focus on near objects or text (ie. reading), due to the loss of elasticity of our crystalline lens. This is common for everyone over 40 and is nothing to be concerned about. People usually try to put off getting bifocals or progressive lenses, however, the earlier you get them the easier it will be to adapt. Some people choose to do a separate pair of reading glasses for doing a lot of reading in one sitting, as it tends to be a little more relaxing on the eyes than a bifocal/progressive for this concentrated activity. As you age the requirement for stronger reading glasses/more magnification is normal.
NOTE: It is a very good idea to increase your light source while reading fine print. This will alleviated strain and make it easier to focus.
Cataracts are a very common development as we age. Opacification of the crystalline lens is characteristic of cataracts. Cataracts are most common in people over 65. In the case of cataracts, there is no need for concern, as cataracts are surgically treatable. Ophthalmologists perform thousands of cataract surgeries every year; the surgical removal of the opaque crystalline lens, followed by the introduction of a new intra-ocular lens is an extremely safe and effective procedure to re-store vision loss due to cataracts. Do not hesitate to discuss any symptoms or vision loss with your Optometrist, as cataracts requires diagnosis and evaluation prior to the referral to a qualified cataract surgeon.
Dry Eye is another complaint most people over 40 speak of – especially for women after menopause. This is due to the inability to produce enough tear secretions to keep the eye moist and comfortable. Whenever you are feeling eye discomfort, burning or scratchiness related to dry eyes, you can create comfort by using artificial tears as needed throughout the day. In more extreme cases, please consult your eye care professional. Sometimes prescription dry eye medications are prescribed, surgical intervention may also be recommended. Other solutions include: dry eye compresses, punctal plugs and eating a healthy diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
Glaucoma is the loss of peripheral vision due to abnormally high pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma is generally asymptomatic. Often, vision loss is the first symptom that one experiences; at this point, the damage is irreversible. This is why maintaining a regular eye exam schedule is extremely important. Upon every visit, the optometrist will screen you for glaucoma by measuring the intra-ocular pressure and by monitoring any changes occurring in the optic nerve. While there’s no cure for glaucoma, early detection and treatment can save your vision.
Age Related Macular Degeneration is the loss of sharp central vision due to the breakdown of the cells found in the macular region of the eye. Unfortunately this condition is very common and is one of the leading causes of blindness in North America. If you are beginning to feel like your vision isn’t as crisp as it once was, and notice a blurred spot right in the center of your focus, it is imperative that you see an optometrist. Smokers, people with high blood pressure, and people who fail to protect their eyes from UV rays are at greater risk of developing ARMD. You can reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays with good quality sunglasses and by introducing into your daily diet leafy green vegetables, cold water fish and orange vegetables. See your eye care professional routinely to help screen for this disease.
Diabetic Retinopathy is a complication of type 1 or type 2 diabetes that causes weakening, swelling and even rupturing of the tiny blood vessels of the retina. These retinal changes can cause permanent irreversible vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy must be treated in order to prevent blindness. Diabetics must maintain their blood sugar in the recommended range through diet and/or medication in order to minimize the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy. Other risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, drinking alcohol and pregnancy. Diabetic retinopathy can be treated but it is important to see both your physician and eye care professional annually for early detection and treatment.