40s and 50s Eyes
Generally, changes in your vision now are just a factor of ageing. If you experience any of the issues below, you may have the early warning signs of a more serious problem. In all cases, early detection and treatment can keep your vision strong—so see your eye care professional to be sure that your eyes are healthy, or to begin treatment and to check for developing conditions.
Loss of peripheral vision
If you’ve noticed that you don’t have the side-to-side vision you’re used to, this may be an early sign of glaucoma. This condition is caused by abnormally high pressure inside your eye – and it often does not show symptoms until damage to your vision has begun. Your eye care professional will test your eyes for glaucoma during your eye exam. Early detection, treatment and management can save your vision.
Cloudy or distorted vision
If your vision seems dim or you’re having trouble reading, watching television, or just seeing what’s around you – even when you’re wearing your glasses or contact lenses – you may have cataracts in one or both eyes. Most of us will develop cataracts as we age because the lenses in our eyes become more opaque as we get older. Cataracts can be corrected by your ophthalmologist, who can replace the cloudy lens with a clear plastic implant known as an intraocular lens (IOL).The effects of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) in its early stages often go unnoticed. In AMD, the macula, the part of your retina that’s responsible for central vision, deteriorates and creates distortion or a blind spot in the middle of your field of vision. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people over 50, but its progress is often slow. Your optometrist will check for this disease during your annual eye examination.
Floating spots and flashes of light
We all see spots, specks, and other things that look like dark bits of string floating in our eyes on occasion. These are actually cells and fibres in the vitreous, the gel-like part of your eye. Generally, these floaters are infrequent and just a normal part of vision. If you experience a sudden increase in the number of floaters or notice that existing floaters have become more noticeable, and if they’re accompanied by bright, flashes of light and/or a curtain or shadow at the edge of your vision, this may be a warning sign of impending retinal detachment – a tear between the vitreous part of the eye and the retina. If left untreated, this tear can expand and lead to a serious loss of vision. See your eye care professional immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Retinal detachment can be treated successfully with surgery.
Low vision/vision loss
While regular eye examinations and early diagnosis of eye disease can save much of your vision, in some cases, you may already have incurred some vision loss that cannot be treated and so you may be left with some permanent reduction in your vision before you have seen your optometrist and can begin treatment. This is commonly called low vision, a condition that can’t be corrected with eye glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. There are many products and devices such as magnifiers that can help people with low vision continue to live normal lives. In addition, some eye care professionals specialise in rehabilitation for low vision, so ask your optometrist for recommendations.
Diabetes and your eyes
If you have type-1 or type-2 diabetes it is important to have your eyes examined every year, or as advised by your eye care professional, to check for a complication called diabetic retinopathy. High blood sugar and hypertension (high blood pressure) can damage the tiny blood vessels within your retina. This painless condition has no symptoms – until it’s serious. Regular visits to your eye care professional can detect it in its early stages. Diabetic retinopathy can be controlled and treated, and its progress slowed significantly if detected before you experience vision loss.