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Vision over age of 40

As we grow older, our bodies undergo changes that sometimes limit our activities. The visual system is no exception. Many eye diseases and disorders are also associated with the aging process.

Some of the common eye problems and diseases after we reach 40 years of age are Presbyopia, cataracts and Glaucoma.

As we grow older, the flexible crystalline lens of the eye hardens and loses its elasticity and the ability to focus on close objects diminishes. This normal aging change in the eye's focusing ability is called presbyopia. The development of near vision problem after age 40 can be somewhat of a concern and a frustration. Losing the ability to read the newspaper or see the cell phone numbers may seem to have occurred abruptly. Actually, these changes have been occurring gradually since childhood.

If you have enjoyed good vision throughout your life and haven't needed glasses or contact lenses to correct distance vision, most adults may start to experience vision problems at close distances after age 40, especially for reading. If you are nearsighted, you may have discovered that you now need to remove your glasses to see better up close.

Unfortunately, there is no exercise or medication that will reverse this process. As you continue to age through your 50s and beyond, presbyopia becomes more advanced. Around age 60, these changes in near vision should stop and prescription changes should occur less frequently.

Signs and symptoms of presbyopia
We will all experience presbyopia sooner or later during our lifetimes. It generally occurs earlier in farsighted people than in nearsighted people. While not everyone will experience the same level of signs and symptoms, the following are the common vision changes:

Need for More Light
As you age, you need more light to see as well. Brighter lights in your work area or next to your reading chair will help make reading and other near tasks easier.

Difficulty Reading and Doing Close Work
Printed materials are not as clear as before, because the lens in your eye becomes less flexible with time. This makes it harder for your eyes to focus near objects with the same ability you had when you were younger.

Options of correction
Fortunately, people with presbyopia now have many options to obtain clear, comfortable near vision for all their life style needs. The options include eyeglasses, contact lenses and surgical correction.

Other eye problems with aging

Problems with Glare
You may notice glare from headlights at night or sun reflecting off windshields or pavement during the day, making it more difficult to drive. Changes within the lens in your eye cause light entering the eye to be scattered rather than focused precisely on the retina, thus creating more glare.

Changes in Colour Perception
The normally clear lens located inside your eye may start to discolour making it harder to see and distinguish between certain shades of colours.

Reduced tear production
With age, the tear glands in your eyes will produce fewer tears. This is particularly true for women after menopause. As a result, your eyes may feel dry and irritated.

Along with presbyopia, the risk for developing a number of eye diseases such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, Glaucoma etc. increases.

Although the exact cause of cataracts is not well understood, they often develop as a person ages. The tendency to form cataracts may run in families. They also may occur after an eye injury or with other diseases.

If your eyes are becoming extremely light sensitive, you may have developed cataracts. Not all cataracts develop blurry vision. If glare causes difficulty with reading, driving a car, or interferes with your lifestyle, you should consider surgery.

A cataract can only be removed by surgery. It cannot be removed with a laser. Cataract surgery is one of the most common operations performed, usually with excellent results if the eye is otherwise healthy. Generally, cataracts are removed on an out-patient basis, unless admission to the hospital is medically necessary. Most patients are up and about on the day of surgery.

Diabetic retinopathy caused by diabetes
If you experience frequent changes in how clearly you can see, it may be a sign of diabetes.
Diabetes causes deterioration of the retinal blood vessels resulting in leaking blood vessels at the back the eye (diabetic retinopathy). If untreated, this condition may lead to blurry vision, detachment of the retina and blindness. Not all people with diabetes develop retinopathy, but the likelihood increases the longer a person has diabetes.

As a precaution, all people with diabetes should be examined at least annually so the condition may be diagnosed early and appropriately treated to prevent or retard loss of sight.

Some people don't seek periodic medical eye examinations because they think their eyesight is perfect normal. This is an incorrect and unfortunate assumption because many eye diseases do not cause symptoms until the disease has done damage. Glaucoma is one of the eye condition needs to be detected early if treatment is to be successful.

Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve is damaged and no longer transits all visual images to the brain. It often has no symptoms until damage to sections of your vision has begun.
The best way to prevent loss of sight from glaucoma is to have medical eye examinations every two to five years if you are over 35, and more frequently if you have diabetes, or have a family history of glaucoma.

If glaucoma is diagnosed, loss of sight can slowed or prevented with medical, surgical, or ophthalmologic laser surgery to lower the eye pressure. Although loss of vision from glaucoma can often be prevented if the disease is detected and treated before noticeable damage occurs to the optic nerve, sight already lost cannot be restored.

Retinal detachment
People of all ages may experience floating sports that sometimes resemble flying specks or "insects" in their vision. In most cases, these are actually shadowy images of particles floating in the fluid that fills the inside of the eye. Although they can be bothersome, spots and floaters are usually harmless and typically do not risk vision. They are a natural part of the eye's aging process.
Most floaters are not associated with serious eye disease and cause no damage to the eye. However, if you suddenly see more floaters than normal, and they accompanied by bright, flashing lights, they may be a warning sign of the onset of a tear in the retina or Retinal detachment. These should be treated immediately to prevent serious loss of vision.

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