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Is It Normal... to Suddenly Experience Vision Changes?

It started with a menu with really tiny type. (That type was super tiny!) Then we noticed that we were doing that thing when you bring the phone closer to your face and then farther away (oh, you know the thing!) in order to read a text. When it became easier to read a book or watch a show on our iPad without our glasses on, we knew it had happened: Our eyes had gotten old.

The optometrist assured us that it’s perfectly normal for women in their early to mid-40s to experience vision changes. But it’s still a bit of a kick in the ego.

Why are age-related vision changes normal?

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), common age-related visions changes include a need for more light, trouble with glare, changes in color perception, reduced tear production (a side effect of hormonal changes), and difficulty reading objects at close range.

This last issue, known as presbyopia, occurs because the lens inside the eye becomes less flexible with age. In fact, presbyopia has been running in the background since your childhood and gradually worsens over time. How do you know if you have presbyopia? If you find that holding reading materials at arm’s distance helps your eyes focus or you need to remove your glasses to view text up close, you have presbyopia.

The AOA suggests that those who experience presbyopia and already wear prescription glasses or contact lenses to see clearly for distance may want to switch to glasses with bifocal or multifocal lenses, or contacts with monovision or bifocal lenses to help mitigate the problem. The simplest option for those who don’t already wear glasses: Buy reading glasses. On the other end of the spectrum, laser surgery is an option if your blurred near vision becomes too much for you.

Who’s more at risk for changes in vision or eye function?

If you suffer from a chronic condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, have a family member with glaucoma or macular degeneration, work a job that puts strain on your eyes, or take medication for health issues like high cholesterol, thyroid, anxiety, depression, or arthritis, your risk for developing eye or vision issues is higher.

When are vision or eye changes not normal?

Simply being over age 45 means you’ll experience vision changes soon, if you haven’t already. Watching for early warning signs could help you spot a more serious eye health problem. If you experience fluctuating vision (frequent changes in how clear your vision is), see a large amount of “floaters” and bright flashes, lose your periphal vision, or see distorted images (for example, straight lines begin to appear wavy), visit your optometrist immediately to rule out any serious underlying problems.

To stay on top of your eye health, the AOA recommends a comprehensive eye examination at least every two years.

Photo: Si Photograpy

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