Our eyes can serve us for a lifetime if properly cared for. As we age, it becomes more important than ever to take preventive steps against vision loss. One in six people over age 45 have some kind of vision problem.* Many of these eye conditions are directly linked to aging, including macular degeneration, cataract, floaters, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

Many people see the first changes in their vision around age 40, when they begin to have trouble focusing up close. Presbyopia, as this is called, is unavoidable but highly treatable with bifocal or trifocal lenses.

Throughout the 50s and 60s, the chance of contracting a sight-threatening condition increases. More than 6.5 million Americans over age 65 have severe vision loss.** The best defense is preventive care.First and foremost, have a dilated eye exam every year, unless directed otherwise by your eye doctor. This will allow your eye doctor to monitor any changes in your vision. Some conditions, like glaucoma, have virtually no symptoms and can only be detected during an eye exam.

In between eye exams, beware of any of these symptoms:

  • Spots and floaters
  • A feeling of a "dark curtain"
  • Sudden eye pain or redness
  • Gradual or sudden narrowing of the field of vision
  • Loss of central vision
  • Clouded vision
  • Blind spots and blurred vision
  • Scratchiness on the surface of the eye
  • Double vision
  • Sudden blurriness in one eye

If you experience any of these, contact your eye doctor immediately. Changes to the eyes are inevitable as we age, but vision loss can be prevented or lessened with diligent preventive care through the years.

*The Aging Eye, Harvard Medical School, 2000
** Vision Monday, "Promoting Wellness: Eyecare's
Next Big Challenge," 6/18/07