How Visual Acuity Changes as You Age

eye doctor checks visual acuityBetween the ages of 40 and 60, most people experience vision changes due to presbyopia. In this form of nearsightedness, which is a natural result of aging, the lens of the eye hardens and loses some of its prior elasticity and ability to focus.

Additionally, cataracts may begin to develop over time. There is a 1 in 6 chance that by age 40, you will have a developing cataract, and the risk triples by age 70. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. However, this type of vision loss is correctable with surgery. Through cataract surgery, doctors are able to remove cataracts and insert custom intraocular lenses. IOLs can correct near vision, distance vision or both, as well as astigmatism.

Another vision condition that becomes more common with age is dry eye, a chronic issue that causes pain, redness, burning, stinging and alternating periods of excessive tearing and dryness.

All of these changes in visual acuity – presbyopia, cataracts and dry eye – are treatable by an ophthalmologist. But pay attention to whether you notice any of the 5 signs listed by the American Optometric Association and make an appointment for an eye exam if you do.

Common Signs of Visual Acuity Changes

  1. Needing Brighter Light

If you find you need brighter light to perform tasks such as threading a needle or reading fine print, you may have presbyopia. It  This might mean it is time for readers, bifocals or laser surgery.

  1. Difficulty Doing Computer Work or Reading

You may notice that you are holding books, menus or recipes farther away to read them and that you are pushing your chair farther away from your computer screen. An increasing difficulty with focusing for these tasks is likely caused by the eye lens losing flexibility due to presbyopia.

  1. Sensitivity to Glare

Changes in the eye lens can cause light entering the eye to be scattered rather than focused on the retina. Glare can be caused by developing cataracts.

  1. Reduced Tear Production

With age, tear production slows. Inadequate tear production can cause discomfort and challenges focusing since they eyes are not properly lubricated. Women are especially susceptible to dry eyes due to the hormonal effects of menopause.

  1. Changes in Color Perception

This is another symptom of cataract development. As the lens becomes harder and brittle, it can cause colors to appear faded or yellowish.

Protect your vision by adopting good lifestyle habits. Healthy vision begins with yearly comprehensive eye exams and by wearing sunglasses, hats, protective gear when outdoors or when operating machinery. Positive habits can delay degenerative eye diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.

Our board-certified ophthalmologists provide quality care at an eye care center near you. Make an appointment today!

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