When a person ages, the strength and abilities of their eyes begin to decrease. This is no different than physical body strength declining due to age and is fairly common once an individual reaches their 60s and older. Many changes the eye undergoes are as a result of aging. The most common occurrences are presbyopia and cataracts, which can be corrected with surgery. However, there are other eye diseases that can occur with age, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
Presbyopia is a normal condition that begins to manifest in individuals after the age of 40. Generally, this is a normal loss of the ability to focus due to the lens of the eye hardening. It results in the individual having more difficulty in seeing objects close up and is also referred to as far-sightedness. It can be corrected with LASIK eye surgery or by using bifocal reading glasses.
Cataracts are often related to other eye diseases. However, they are very common among older individuals and are seen as being normal effects of aging. The Mayo Clinic estimates that approximately half of American people 65 or older have cataracts, with the percentage being even higher in the 70s. The condition can be rectified with surgery, which is very popular due to its effectiveness. Cataract surgery is also safe, so there is no worry of losing vision as a result.
Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness in senior citizens. The National Eye Institute or NEI estimates that the condition affects over 1.75 million Americans and that this number will increase by the year 2020.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that individuals over age 40 are at greater risk of developing. There is a one percent chance of getting it at 40 and the risk increases as much as 12 percent by the age of 80. It is important to have regular visits to the ophthalmologist and get tested for glaucoma.
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that occurs in individuals who have diabetes. The NEI has estimated that 10.2 million people over 40 have diabetes, with up to 30 percent of individuals having it but not knowing it. Out of those who are older than 40 who have the disease, 40 percent have diabetic retinopathy, which can cause the vision to decrease.
The best defense against aging eyes is a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.