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Warning Signs of Age-related Vision Loss

Because gradual vision loss is thought of as an inevitable part of aging, many people lose their sight unnecessarily, unaware that the damage to their vision can be slowed or reversed by proper care. As we age we become more susceptible to conditions of the eye which can cause permanent blindness. Many of these conditions can be treated if caught early.

Difficulty reading and doing fine work
Presbyopia affects most people beginning in their forties. It is the reason people need reading glasses or bifocals as they age. When the lens of your eye becomes stiff or the muscles get weak, the fine focusing that you need to read and do close work begins to fail.

This is not the only reason you may be losing the finer details. The center of your retina, called the macula, is the area of the eye which processes fine details. Serious eye conditions, such as age related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy, can affect the macula of your eye. Initially these conditions can have symptoms which mimic presbyopia, but they can quickly progress to permanent vision loss or blindness.

Seeing stars or shadows
A small amount of floaters which develop over time are normal and harmless. A sudden flood of floaters, stars, or a large shadow or veil over a portion of your vision can mean you have a tear in your retina or retinal detachment. Retinal detachment is a medical emergency, and you need to seek treatment right away. Delaying treatment for just a few hours can cause permanent vision loss.

Your prescription changes frequently
While it is normal for your vision to decline gradually as you age, frequent changes in your prescription or rapidly worsening vision can be a sign of many eye conditions. It may be as simple as cataracts, or it may be something more serious, such as diabetic retinopathy. The onset of vision loss cased by diabetic retinopathy is often the first symptom people experience to alert them to life-threatening diabetes.

Diabetes is just one of many dangerous health conditions which can be signaled by rapidly failing or changing eyesight.

You can never seem to get enough light to see well
With age your pupils will begin to dilate less than they used to, so you will need brighter light. If you need more light specifically for reading and close work, AMD or diabetic retinopathy may be obscuring the macula of your eye. An overall need for brighter light can mean that cataracts are reducing the light which enters your eye. Fortunately, cataracts can be easily removed.

Double vision
Double vision can originate in the eye or in the brain. Many eye conditions can cause double vision including:

Double vision can also be a sign of a serious health condition or an immediate health emergency. Double vision can be a symptom of:

  • Stroke
  • Aneurysm
  • Brain tumor
  • Brain injury
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Meningitis
  • High blood pressure

Long term or recurring double vision or a sudden onset of severe double vision should not be ignored. Talk to your ophthalmologist and/or your doctor right away.

If you are experiencing any of these age-related warning signs, you may be in danger of losing your sight or even your life, or you may simply have an easily correct vision problem. Early diagnosis and treatment can stop many eye conditions and health conditions or slow their progression, and restore your eyesight. Talk to your ophthalmologist about the warning signs of age related vision loss today.

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