Changes in Vision as You Age

It’s not uncommon for people to experience changes in vision as they age. Common changes include:

  • Losing the ability to see up close
  • Having trouble distinguishing colors, such as blue from black
  • Needing more time to adjust to shifts in lighting

(National Institute on Aging)

Senior getting vision and eyes checked by optometrist

These changes have easy solutions like improving the lighting wherever you work, read, or use your eyes to see fine details. You can also see your eye doctor for prescription glasses or contact lenses to adjust for changes in vision. We recommend seeing your eye doctor regularly to monitor for eye diseases and conditions, as your risk intensifies as you age.

Protecting Your Vision

The most important thing you can do to protect your vision as you age is to see your eye doctor. If you don’t have any symptoms or vision problems, doctors recommend getting regular eye exams based on your age:

Ages 20 to 39: Every 5 years
Ages 40 to 54: Every 2 to 4 years
Ages 55 to 64: Every 1 to 3 years
Ages 65 and up: Every 1 to 2 years

If you have a family history of eye disease, are managing a chronic illness that increases your risk for eye disease, or you wear glasses or contact lenses, it is recommended that you visit your eye doctor more frequently. Talk to your optometrist to get your ideal appointment schedule. (Aetna)

It can be hard to identify signs and symptoms of eye disease when it is in its earlier stages. The only way to identify common eye diseases while they are still easier to treat is through a dilated eye exam performed by an eye care professional. By having your eyes checked, you can mitigate or even prevent vision loss through early treatment.
(National Institute on Aging)

Female eye doctor talking with older female patient

Understanding the Risk of Eye Disease as You Age

There are five common eye problems that can lead to vision loss or blindness as you age, many of which have very few early symptoms. If your eye doctor detects these issues early, however, there are things you can do to limit damage. These five conditions include:

  • Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – this condition affects the sharp, central vision that you use to see objects clearly. (National Institute on Aging)

  • Diabetic Retinopathy – this condition is a complication that can come with diabetes, due to increased sugar in the blood that blocks the blood vessels that nourish the retina. (Mayo Clinic)

  • Cataracts – these cloudy areas in the eye’s lens can cause blurred or hazy vision.
    (National Institute on Aging)

  • Glaucoma – this is a group of eye diseases that damage your optic nerve and can lead to vision loss and blindness. (Glaucoma Foundation)

  • Dry Eye – this condition happens when tear glands are not working properly and can cause stinging, burning, and even a sandy feeling in the eye.

Tips For Better Eye Health at Any Age

Whether you’re 19 or 90, there are easy things you can do to take better care of your eyes. The National Institute on Aging has put together a great tip list:

  • Protect your eyes from sunlight by wearing sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) radiation and a hat with a wide brim when you are outside.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Make smart food choices.
  • Be physically active and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Maintain normal blood pressure.
  • Manage diabetes (if you have it).
  • If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on one thing, take a break every 20 minutes to look about 20 feet away for 20 seconds to prevent eye strain.
Elderly man getting his eyes checked

Signs of an Eye Emergency

It is important that you see an eye care professional right away if you:

  • Suddenly cannot see or everything looks blurry
  • See many new floaters (tiny specks or “cobwebs” that seem to float across your vision) and/or flashes of light
  • Have eye pain
  • Experience double vision
  • Have redness or swelling of your eye or eyelid

(National Institute on Aging)

Living with Vision Impairment or Loss

If you are experiencing vision loss as a result of aging or other conditions, you can still remain independent and in your home with the help of non-medical in-home care providers. A homecare professional can help you reduce the risk of falling by eliminating tripping hazards in your home. They can also help you with transportation if you aren’t comfortable driving, go with you to medical appointments to manage healthcare instructions, and help you with errands, light housekeeping, and meal prep. For more information on our non-medical in-home care services, please reach out to your local ameriCARE!