Vision Over 60
We all know that over time our bodies change—especially our vision. As we age, we're more susceptible to cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. Detecting these conditions early can help keep your eyes and body healthy. Your Clarkson doctor can look for more than vision problems; he can look for signs of serious health conditions like diabetic eye disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. An exam won't keep you from aging, but it can definitely help protect your eyes and your overall health.
Just as our physical strength decreases with age, our eyes also exhibit an age-related decline in performance — particularly as we reach our 60s and beyond.
Some of us, however, will experience more serious age-related eye diseases that have greater potential for affecting our quality of life as we grow older. These conditions include glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
Age related eye conditions:
As we age, we naturally lose some of the visual abilities we had when we were younger:
Reduced pupil size - As we age, muscles that control our pupil size and reaction to light lose some strength. This causes the pupil to become smaller and less responsive to changes in ambient lighting. Because of these changes, people in their 60s need three times more ambient light for comfortable reading than those in their 20s. Also, seniors are more likely to be dazzled by bright sunlight and glare when emerging from a dimly lit building such as a movie theater. Eyeglasses with anti-reflective coating can help reduce this problem.
Dry eyes - As we age, our bodies produce fewer tears. This is particularly true for women after menopause. If you begin to experience burning, stinging, or other eye discomfort related to dry eyes, consult your Clarkson doctor for over the counter or prescription medication options.
Loss of peripheral vision - Aging also causes a normal loss of peripheral vision, with the size of our visual field decreasing by approximately one to three degrees per decade of life. By the time you reach your 70s and 80s, you may have a peripheral visual field loss of 20 to 30 degrees. There is no treatment for this normal, age-related loss of peripheral vision.
Decreased color vision - Cells in the retina that are responsible for normal color vision decline in sensitivity as we age, causing colors to become less bright and the contrast between different colors to be less noticeable. In particular, blue colors may appear faded or "washed out." There is no treatment for this normal, age-related loss of color perception.
Vitreous detachment - As we age, the gel-like vitreous inside the eye begins to liquefy and pull away from the retina, causing "spots and floaters" and sometimes flashes of light. This condition, called vitreous detachment, is usually harmless. Flashes and floaters of light can also signal the beginning of a detached retina — a serious problem that can cause blindness if not treated immediately. If you experience flashes and floaters, see your Clarkson doctor immediately to determine the cause.
What you can do about age-related vision changes
A healthy diet and wise lifestyle choices, such as not smoking, are your best natural defenses against vision loss as you age. Also, you need to have regular eye exams with a caring and knowledgeable optometrist or ophthalmologist. Be sure to discuss with your eye doctor all concerns you have about your eyes and vision. Tell him or her about any history of eye problems in your family, as well as any other health problems you may have. Your doctor should know what medications you take, including non-prescription vitamins, herbs and supplements. This will help with appropriate recommendations to keep your eyes healthy and functioning at their optimum level throughout your lifetime.