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Common and Age-Related Vision Issues

  • Synopsis: Published: 2012-09-27 (Rev. 2015-04-19) - Information regarding common vision issues including refractive errors, nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Wendy Taormina-Weiss at Disabled World.

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Quote: "Many people who are over the age of forty may notice their vision beginning to change. They might need glasses in order to see objects that are close to them, or experience more difficulty with distinguishing some colors or adjusting to glare."

The majority of common vision issues involve refractive errors, also referred to as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. Refractive errors happen when the shape of a person's eye prevents light from focusing directly on their retina. The length of a person's eyeball, either shorter or longer, changes in the shape of their cornea, or aging of the lens, may all cause refractive errors. Many people experience one or more of these conditions.

'Refraction,' is the bending of light as it passes through an object to another. 'Vision,' happens when light rays are bent or, 'refracted,' as they pass through a person's cornea and the lens. The light is then focused on the person's retina, which converts the light rays into messages that are sent through the person's optic nerve to their brain. The person's brain then interprets the messages into images they see.

Types of Refractive Errors

As mentioned, the most common types of refractive errors are near and far sightedness, presbyopia and astigmatism. What follows are descriptions of these refractive errors.

Nearsightedness: Nearsightedness is also referred to as, 'myopia,' and is a condition where objects close to a person appear clear, while objects that are farther away appear blurry. People who experience nearsightedness have eyes where light comes to focus in front of their retinas instead of on the retinas themselves.

Farsightedness: Farsightedness is a common form of refractive error also referred to as, 'hyperopia,' where objects that are distant from a person may be seen with more clarity than ones that are near to them. Interestingly, people experience farsightedness differently. While some people might not notice any issues with their vision, particularly when they are younger, those with significant farsightedness may experience vision that is blurry at any distance - far or near.

Presbyopia: Presbyopia is a condition related to a person's age in which their ability to focus on objects up close becomes more difficult. As a person's eye ages, the lens may lose its ability to change shape enough to permit the person's eye to focus on objects that are close with clarity.

Astigmatism: Astigmatism is a condition in which a person's eye does not focus light evenly onto their retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of a person's eye. The result may be images that appear, 'stretched out,' or blurry to the person.

Presbyopia is a condition affecting the majority of adults over the age of thirty-five. Other forms of refractive errors can affect both adults and children. People with parents who have certain forms of refractive errors might be more likely to experience one or more forms of refractive errors.

Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnosing of Refractive Errors

The most common symptom of a refractive error is blurred vision, although there are a number of other symptoms a person may experience. Additional symptoms of a refractive error may include the following:

  • Haziness
  • Squinting
  • Eye strain
  • Headaches
  • Double vision
  • 'Halos, or Glare around lights

Eye care professionals have the ability to diagnose refractive errors through a comprehensive dilated eye examination. People who experience a refractive error many times visit an eye care professional after experiencing blurred vision or visual discomfort. There are; however, some people who are unaware they are not seeing as clearly as they might be. Refractive errors may be corrected through the use of eyeglasses, contact lenses, or at times - surgical intervention.

Age-Related Eye Conditions and Diseases

Many people who are over the age of forty may notice their vision beginning to change. They might need glasses in order to see objects that are close to them, or experience more difficulty with distinguishing some colors or adjusting to glare. Changes in a person's vision such as these are a regular part of the aging process and should not stop a person from pursuing an active lifestyle or maintaining their independence.

Some people live well into their senior years without ever experiencing severe loss of vision. As people age; however, they are at a higher risk of developing age-related eye conditions and diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, cataracts, low vision, dry eye, or glaucoma. It is important to receive a comprehensive dilated eye examination.

People who are age fifty and older should visit an eye care professional for a comprehensive eye examination. A number of eye diseases do not present any early warning symptoms or signs, although a dilated eye examination can detect eye diseases while they are still in their early stages prior to loss of vision. Early detection and treatment may help a person to save their vision.

Due to this it is important to remember that even if you are not experiencing any problems with your vision you should still get an eye examination. An eye care professional can tell you how often you need an eye examination based upon your specific risk factors. What follows are descriptions of some age-related eye conditions and diseases:

Cataracts: Cataracts are the clouding of the lenses in a person's eyes. A person's vision when they have cataracts may appear blurry or cloudy and colors might seem faded. The person may notice a lot of glare as well.

Diabetic Eye Disease: Diabetic eye disease is a complication of diabetes, as well as a leading cause of blindness. The most common form is, 'diabetic retinopathy,' something that happens when diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels inside a person's retina.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma is actually a group of diseases, all of which may damage the optic nerve in a person's eye resulting in loss of vision and blindness. Glaucoma is often associated with high pressure in a person's eye and affects their side or, 'peripheral,' vision.

Low Vision: Low vision means that despite the use of regular eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery - a person finds everyday tasks hard to accomplish. Tasks such as shopping, reading the mail, watching television, cooking, or writing might seem challenging.

Age-related Macular Degeneration: Age-related Macular Degeneration is a form of disease associated with aging that gradually destroys a person's sharp, central vision. A person's central vision is required for seeing objects clearly and for activities such as driving or reading.

Dry Eye: Dry eye happens when a person's eye does not produce tears as it should, or when the tears it does produce are not of the right consistency and evaporate too quickly. Dry eye may make it harder for a person to perform some activities such as reading or using a computer for lengthy periods of time.

Eye Diseases
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/eyediseases.html

Eye Problems and Diseases
www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/

This page has complete information on eye and vision problems such as eye conditions, eye diseases, surgical eye procedures, and vision problems.

Glaucoma
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002587/

Related Information:

  1. What to Expect at an Eye Examination - Information regarding getting your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist or optometrist including types of eye exam tests performed.
  2. Vision Correction Options for Seniors - From age 40 our eyes gradually lose ability to focus on close-up objects a condition called presbyopia.
  3. Eye Floaters and Flashes of Light - Suddenly seeing eye floaters or flashes of light may indicate a serious eye problem.




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