Vision is so important to how most of us interpret the world that “seeing is believing”, so losing even the smallest portion of your sight can be cause for alarm. Knowing how the strong link between age and vision progresses over time can help you be aware of the signs and take the steps necessary to slow their onset.
Age Doesn’t Always Matter
From the time a person is born, there is a possibility that they will endure partial or full loss of vision, both permanently and temporarily. Physical injury to the eyes or strain from use are the most likely causes of visual impairment in people under forty. Always consider the safety of your eyes when engaging in potentially dangerous activities like playing a sport or working with caustic chemicals.
Although young people have a lower occurrence of vision impairment, detrimental events like exposure to damaging elements like direct sunlight or excessive straining are still beginning to make minor injuries during this time span that will build up over time, spurring the early onset of some conditions like cataracts. Families with a known genetic risk for an eye-related condition should take precautions accordingly.
Early Age-Related Vision Loss
The first significant age-related increase in the rate of vision impairment comes along at forty years of age. The lenses of the eyes are beginning to lose their elasticity and opaqueness, potentially progressing towards a blurred image while diminishing your ability to change focus between objects at varying distances. This typically manifests as difficulty in viewing anything that is too close to your eyes or too small to identify. Which is one reason why over-the-counter reading glasses have become so popular, and easily available online or your nearby drug store.
More than 2 out of 5 people who suffer from diabetes will develop diabetic retinopathy, a vision impairing condition caused by swelling blood vessels in the retina. Most degenerative eye conditions, including retinopathy, are more likely to occur in the earlier stages of adulthood for those who suffer from diabetes. Diabetic people over the age of forty should have an eye examination every year, while those without diabetes can go two years between appointments.
Vision Loss Among the Elderly
Once you have reached 65 years of age, your chances of suffering from vision loss escalate dramatically. The National Eye Institute says that the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is significantly higher in patients over the age of 60. As much as a quarter of the population over 65 suffers from AMD, increasing up to 40% when narrowing the range to those over 75. Cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic nerve damage, and nearly every other eye condition become more likely.
You may notice the development of small black squiggles known as floaters. If their numbers increase suddenly while accompanied by flashes of light, it can indicate that the retina has detached and you should seek immediate medical care.
Staving Off Vision Problems
The first step in keeping your eyes healthy is avoiding stressors like straining and sunlight; you can tackle both of those with a pair of reading sunglasses. If you happen to be a smoker, looking for help in quitting can lead to a reduction in your risk factors, even if you’ve been at it for years. The next step is to look out for the signs of vision loss and to regularly schedule check-ups with your optometrist. Catching degenerative issues early and undergoing proper treatment can improve vision for over 50% of sufferers.
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