Want healthy eyes? What to know at 40 and beyond

Did the print on this label suddenly shrink? If you are in your 40s or older, you may have asked yourself this question when struggling to read something that you used to see clearly without a problem.

Blame your aging eyes. Just like our joints, our eyes undergo age-related changes. Although eye problems can affect people of any age, some conditions become more common after 40 years of age.

To get old? Three common eye conditions

Presbyopia. The lens of the eye becomes stiffer with age, making it more difficult to focus on nearby objects – hence your difficulty reading labels. A lot of people are happy with cheap reading glasses, but once you need them, it’s time to get a midlife eye exam.

Cataracts. Another common condition that can occur with age is cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye that can affect vision. Cataracts affect about half of people aged 65 to 74. Treatment usually involves outpatient surgery to replace the cloudy lens.

Dry eye syndrome. This condition affects over 15 million adults in the United States and occurs due to reduced tear production. With less natural lubrication, your eyes may become irritated, sticky, or you may feel a burning or itching sensation in your eyes. Depending on the severity, symptoms can be treated with eye drops that mimic your natural tears, a prescription topical medication, or a device to increase tear production.

Additional eye conditions which may occur with age or disease

Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). Signs of this condition include visual disturbances, such as light streaks, floaters, or a spider web-like haze. These occur because the gelatinous substance called vitreous in the eye begins to liquefy and shrink, causing traction on the retina.

Call your medical team immediately if you notice these signs. While most people with PVD do not need treatment, in some cases the vitreous can completely separate from the retina or tear it. A tear or detachment can cause vision loss and requires laser intervention or surgery to repair the problem, according to the American Society of Retina Specialists.

Glaucoma. Another condition that becomes more common after the age of 40 is glaucoma. This painless and often asymptomatic condition damages the optic nerve that carries information from your eyes to your brain. When left untreated, glaucoma can lead to peripheral or central vision loss. Most often, glaucoma is treated with prescription eye drops designed to reduce the pressure in your eye. Less commonly, your doctor may recommend laser intervention or surgery.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This condition causes degeneration of the retina, a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye. Light-sensitive cells in the retina capture images and transmit them to the brain through the optic nerve. AMD affects a central part of the retina called the macula. This can lead to blurry or distorted vision, and possibly a blind spot in a person’s field of vision. Treatment, which can include medication or laser therapy, can often help prevent or at least delay vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy. This condition also causes damage to the retina. For people with diabetes, keeping blood sugar and blood pressure under control helps prevent diabetic retinopathy. If detected, your eye doctor will recommend treatment, usually eye injections or laser therapy.

Easy ways to maintain eye health

Many eye conditions can be treated effectively to protect your vision if caught early. That’s why it’s wise to have regular eye exams, spot potential problems, and resolve them before they affect your eyesight.

You can also take other steps to make sure your eyes stay healthy, such as exercising, eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and protecting your eyes from ultraviolet rays by wearing sunglasses. outside.

The post Want healthy eyes? What to Know at Age 40 and Beyond appeared first on the Harvard Health Blog.

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Jothi Venkat

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