When people reach their early to mid-forties, changes occur in the eyes that affect the ability to see at close distances. Known as presbyopia, this condition occurs in all middle-aged people and is a natural part of the aging process of the eye. It occurs because the lens inside the eye becomes less flexible as it ages, hindering the eye’s ability to focus.
Some common signs of presbyopia include holding reading materials at arm’s length, poor vision at normal reading distances, and headaches and eye fatigue when doing work at a computer. As people enter their 50’s and beyond, presbyopia becomes more advanced. This results in older people needing more frequent adjustments in their eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions. Fortunately, these changes tend to level off when people reach their sixties.
Presbyopia can’t be prevented or cured – everyone has to deal with it. To help your eyes compensate, your optometrist can prescribe reading glasses, bifocals, progressives or contact lenses to help you see better and enjoy more comfortable vision.
Other Age-related Vision Changes
Presbyopia isn’t the only change that occurs with aging eyes. As your eyes get older, you will also experience the following:
- Need for more light Older eyes require more light to see properly. This is because the pupil becomes smaller and less responsive to changes in light. For the same reason, adapting to changing light conditions also becomes more difficult, such as going from bright sunshine to a dimly-lit room.
- Problems with glare As we age, many people notice that glare from headlights at night or the sun reflecting off bright objects makes it more difficult to drive. Changes in the eye’s lens as we get older causes more light to scatter before being focused on the retina, creating more glare.
- Reduced Tear Production As we age, the tear glands in our eyes produce fewer tears. This can cause the eyes to become dry and irritated. Women after the age of menopause are particularly susceptible to this problem.
- Changes in Color Perception The lens inside the eye can become discolored as we age, making it harder to distinguish certain colors.