GETTING OLDER, AND THE MANY WAYS YOUR EYES CAN CHANGE
Eye health and vision changes a lot as you grow older, and it can be difficult to know what the difference is between a natural part of aging and a serious symptom you should be looking out for.
That’s where our dedication to patient education can help. As part of raising awareness for Healthy Aging Month, the team at Eye Centers of Florida wanted to talk about some common eyesight changes you might experience as you get older. If you know more about these symptoms, you’ll be able to recognize symptoms, schedule an appointment with one of our expert doctors, and start controlling the issue earlier, increasing the chances that any condition that might develop will be caught before it has a chance to threaten your vision.
Here are some of the most common age-related eye changes:
You Find that Reading Is Becoming More Difficult with Time
As the eye ages, its lens — a clear tissue behind the pupil that helps to focus vision — becomes less flexible and has a harder time changing focus. This makes it harder to read, see at close range, or do “near work.” This condition is called presbyopia, which comes from Greek meaning “aging eye”.
Nearly all adults experience presbyopia, starting around age 40, but for most, the solution is simply wearing reading glasses!
Your Eyes Suddenly Burn, Sting, or Water Excessively
Both burning and watery eyes can be signs of dry eye. Many people develop dry eye as they age, as a variety of factors affect the quality or quantity of tears the eye produces.
For most people, treatment for dry eye is as simple as using over-the-counter eye drops. If these drops don’t provide relief, an ophthalmologist may prescribe medication, or one of a variety of other in-office or at-home treatment options.
You See Clouds Floating in Your Vision or Occasional Flashes of Light
These “clouds,” more commonly called “floaters” in the world of eye care, are actually tiny clumps of cells floating in the vitreous gel — the clear, gel-like fluid inside the eye. The flashes of light are caused by vitreous gel moving and pulling at the retina, the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye.
Floaters and flashes become more common as one ages, but a sudden increase in frequency could be a sign of a torn retina, which can be serious if not address urgently.
You Experience Cloudy Vision, Colors are Muted, Lights Appear to Have Halos, or Double Vision
All of these symptoms can be a sign of cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens that nearly everyone develops as they age.
The only effective treatment for cataracts is cataract surgery, which is luckily one of the most common and successful elective surgeries performed in the United States, shown to significantly improve both vision and quality of life.
Your Central Vision is Diminished, Seeming Hazy or Distorted
These are common symptoms of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Because symptoms of AMD usually aren’t noticeable until vision loss has already occurred, routine eye exams are essential to help diagnose AMD early and prevent vision loss.
Depending on the form of AMD present, wet or dry, there are different treatments. These can include anti-VEGF injections, which block the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina that cause wet AMD, and dietary supplements or other treatments to slow or halt AMD’s progression.
You Have Trouble Seeing at Intersections While Driving
Deteriorating peripheral vision may be a sign of glaucoma, a leading cause of irreversible blindness. Vision loss from glaucoma can be so gradual that people affected by the condition are often unaware of it until their eyesight has already been compromised. Fortunately, most vision loss from glaucoma can be prevented with early detection and medical intervention.
Everyone should see an ophthalmologist regularly, but especially if they have a risk factor for glaucoma: African or Hispanic ancestry, migraines, diabetes, or low blood pressure. Glaucoma is usually treated with eye drops, but surgical options offer more permanent solutions.
Come to Eye Center of Florida If You Have These Symptoms
You may have noticed a common theme with these symptoms and conditions: the earlier you seek treatment, the better off your eye health will be! While we’re proud of our highly experienced surgical staff, all our advanced surgical options, and our patient outcomes, early and proper management of these conditions can prevent the need for a surgical procedure entirely in some cases.
If you notice any of these symptoms, or any changes to your vision over time, schedule an appointment at Eye Centers of Florida or call (239) 939-3456 today, to protect your eyes and eyesight now and for years to come!