By Barbara Van Tine

As you age, it's likely that your eyesight is getting worse. With aging, the lens of the eye hardens and eye muscles become stiffer, making it harder to read small type or focus in dim light. Advancing age also puts you at risk for more serious eye diseases, as do chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

The good news is that early diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders can help slow their progression and often prevent serious vision loss. Here's a rundown of the vision problems you may experience as you get older:

Presbyopia

Presbyopia is the inability to focus clearly on nearby objects or small print. It occurs when the lens of the eye thickens and becomes more rigid, and it usually becomes noticeable around age 40. Drugstore reading glasses or prescription lenses can solve this problem.

Floaters

These tiny black spots, lines or other shapes drift across your field of vision. They are actually particles floating in the eyeball's fluid. Floaters are not treatable, but rarely indicate a serious problem if they've developed gradually and haven't changed much over time. If you experience "flashes"—visual sensations of quick bursts or streaks of light—call your eye doctor right away, as these could signal a detached retina.

Cataracts

Cataracts are cloudy areas that cover the lens of the eye. They can affect your ability to perceive fine detail and distinguish certain colors. Symptoms include blurred vision and glare. Risk factors besides age include smoking, diabetes, and prolonged use of corticosteroids. Cataract surgery—the most common surgical procedure in the U.S.—replaces the clouded lens with an artificial lens implant.

Glaucoma

This condition occurs when pressure inside the eye damages the optic nerve. Symptoms of glaucoma normally don't appear until the disease's later stages and can include a loss of peripheral vision or blind spots.

Risk factors include diabetes, corticosteroid use and having a family history of the disease. The most common form of the disorder, open-angle glaucoma, can often be treated with drugs or surgery, but lifelong use of medication is usually necessary.

AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration)

This is the most common cause of vision loss for Americans age 65 and older. Both forms of AMD —wet or dry—are caused by damage to the eye's macula, a small area at the center of the retina.

Symptoms include a gray, hazy or blank spot in the center of your vision. Suspected risk factors for AMD include family history, smoking and race. AMD can’t be cured, but treatment—which may include high-dose vitamin and mineral supplements, drug injections, or surgery—can reduce the likelihood of its progression.

From our sister publication REMEDY's Healthy Living Summer 2014

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 16 Jun 2014

Last Modified: 16 Jun 2014