5 COMMON VISION ISSUES
Early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to deal with these potential sight stealers.
1 REFRACTIVE ERRORS
It sounds scary, but this simply implies nearsightedness or farsightedness and can also refer to astigmatism (distorted vision at all distances) and presbyopia, the loss of up-close focusing ability (hello, reading glasses!). Genetics, age, and gender may play a role in eye issues—in fact, women 40 and over experience 14% more refractive issues than men that age.
Glasses, contact lenses, or laser surgery can temporarily (or permanently) enhance your vision.
This vision-blurring problem occurs when proteins in the lenses clump together into clouds, and it typically appears in older individuals. “When people get old enough, almost everyone has a cataract,” says Dr. Barbazetto.
Lots of sun time, taking steroids, having diabetes, or smoking or drinking alcohol habitually can up your risk. An eye exam can detect a cataract, but you’ll probably notice it first: Colors will start to look faded, you’ll see a halo around light, or you won’t be able to see easily at night.
If your cataract is small, try using a magnifying glass while reading and replacing your lightbulbs with brighter ones. If a cataract gets too big, the cure is outpatient surgery to implant an artificial lens.
3 MACULAR DEGENERATION
As we age, the macula may develop deposits or fill with leaky blood vessels, impairing vision—you might see a gray or black spot in your central vision but still be able to observe things in the periphery.That’s because the macula helps us see right in front of us. Nearly 2 million Americans have age-related macular degeneration.
Treatments have been shown to slow progression and save sight, which is why it’s crucial to diagnose AMD early, Dr. Barbazetto says. Once you hit your mid- to late
40s, you should have an eye exam every two years, or annually if you have a family history of AMD. If early to intermediate AMD is diagnosed, you can take special supplements packed with vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, and other nutrients to slow down the damage.
Built-up pressure in the eye can cause damage to the optic nerve over time; this has an impact on peripheral vision first, with total blindness a potential eventual result. Anyone can get glaucoma, but age and genetics
(especially if you’re African American or Hispanic/Latina) can up the odds.
Medicine, lasers, or surgery can help with disease progression.
5 DIABETIC RETINOPATHY
Eye problems can be a complication of diabetes, as high blood sugar damages retinal vessels over time. “Strict glucose control can help prevent this complication,” says Dr. Roth. If you have diabetes, eat right, exercise, take all prescribed medications, check your blood sugar regularly, and get a yearly dilated retinal exam.
Besides keeping up with habits that support balanced blood sugar, lasers, injections, or surgery can be effective—but these can only help before the loss of sight, says Dr. Roth, which is why early diagnosis is crucial.