40s and 50s Eyes
You may also notice that just about everyone in your age group uses some type of vision correction, like spectacles or multifocal contact lenses. Here are some reasons why:
The eye’s lens becomes less elastic
Are printed words not as clear as they used to be? This is, in part, because the lens within your eye becomes less elastic with time. This makes it tougher for your eyes to focus with the same agility you experienced in younger years. Reading glasses, bifocals or multifocal contact lenses will help you see more clearly. Beyond that, using a vision accessory like a magnifying glass will bring the smallest print into focus – like the words on maps or numbers in crossword puzzles.
The eye’s lens may become cloudy
The lens within your eye may start to become cloudy, making it harder to see colours with the same vibrancy you once enjoyed. You may also notice additional glare from headlights at night, or from the sun hitting the pavement during the day. Polarised sunglasses can help prevent this from happening during the day by filtering out the glare. You may also find it more difficult to drive at night. Contact lenses that correct for spherical aberration may help with this condition.
Eyes may feel drier
You may have noticed that your eyes feel drier than normal. This is because your tear glands have lost some ability to produce moisture and keep your eyes properly lubricated. Artificial-tear eye drops that work like real tears will help to moisturise and alleviate the discomfort of dry eye. If your job involves using a computer for hours at a time, you may be increasing the dryness through a condition called digital eye strain. Making some small changes in your work habits can provide some relief for this problem. This includes:
- Keep your computer screen within 50-60cm of your eyes
- Keep the top of your computer screen slightly below eye level
- Minimise the distance between your computer screen and any documents you need to reference while working
- Use the 20-20-20 rule and take a break every 20 minutes to focus on an object over 20 feet away for 20 seconds
- Blink frequently to restabilise the tear film
- Adjusting the light to minimise glare on the screen
Seeing bright pinpoints of light or floating black dots
Are you seeing occasional bright pinpoints of light, or floating black dots that seem to last a long time? These come into your field of vision because your vitreous, the part of the eye that connects to the retina, begins to shrink as you reach your 40s. The floaters and flashers are a nuisance, but you can learn to ignore them without much effort. If you see a sudden increase in the number of dots and flashes, contact your eye care professional.
Be sure to visit the optometrist regularly – and learn about all the potential eye concerns related to your particular age group. By being well-informed, you can learn to recognise signs of trouble – and possibly cure or slow a sight-threatening disease. In between eye exams, if you notice a change in your vision – or if your eye becomes injured in any way – contact your optometrist.
Getting the right amount of rest, regular exercise, and proper nutrition are vital for your long-term eye health. Studies have shown that antioxidant, minerals and other vitamins may help defend against free radicals and help prevent eye-related diseases. Free radicals are unstable molecules – unchecked, they can damage cells in the eye, which may lead to serious vision problems, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
It’s helpful to know how the eyes work, to understand how the eye’s parts function together to bring clear images to your brain – and how these parts change over time.
These symptoms can also be a sign of other eye conditions. If you have any of the symptoms, please check with your eye care practitioner.