Three Eye Conditions That May Appear As You Age

Posted on: 16 October 2014

While some eye conditions, such as astigmatism and lazy eye, appear when a person is young, others do not arise until later in life. Many adults find that their vision begins to decline when they are in their 40s and 50s. Not all loss of vision is due to serious conditions -- many cases are simply a natural effect of aging and can be treated with a simple pair of glasses. However, in some cases, vision loss in aging adults is caused by one of the following eye conditions.


Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye begins to get cloudy, leading to obstruction of vision. Some patients experience cataracts in one eye, while others develop them in both eyes. Anyone can develop cataracts, but they are most commonly seen in patients in their 40s or 50s. Often, the cataracts begin to develop earlier than this, but their effects are not noticeable until they have had the chance to grow.

Smokers, heavy drinkers, and diabetics are at an increased risk of developing cataracts. If you fall into any of these categories, it is wise to visit your eye doctor regularly, so that cataracts are detected early if they do develop. Also, visit your eye doctor if your vision seems blurry, colors seem faded, and you have trouble seeing at night. These are signs of cataracts.

If you are diagnosed with cataracts, your ophthalmologist will likely recommend living with the condition until it progresses to the point that your visual impairment is interfering with your daily life. At that point, you can opt to undergo cataract surgery, during which your lenses will be removed and replaced.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a condition in which part of your retina, the portion of the eye that's responsible for converting light signals into electrical signals that are send to the brain through the optic nerve, becomes progressively damaged. Caucasians and smokers are at a higher risk of developing macular degeneration than the rest of the population.

Symptoms of macular degeneration include progressive vision loss, the loss of central vision, and the development of blank spots in the visual field. If your eye doctor determines that your vision loss is due to macular degeneration, you'll have several treatment options. Various medications may be used to slow the progression of early-stage macular degeneration. In more advanced cases, surgery can be used to improve vision.


Glaucoma is a progressive condition that leads to damage to the optic nerve and an increase in pressure in the inner eye. The main symptom is a decrease in visual acuity, but some patients do not suffer any symptoms until the disease is in its later stages. If left untreated, glaucoma can eventually lead to complete blindness. Thus, it is important to be tested regularly for glaucoma as you age.

While anyone can develop this condition, it is most common in people over the age of 60. If you have a family history of glaucoma, you have a greater risk of developing the condition yourself. Luckily, glaucoma is relatively easy to detect. Your eye doctor will use a series of painless tests to measure the pressure in your eye, and to visualize your optic nerve. If you are found to have glaucoma, prescription medications can be used to slow its progression, so your vision does not continue to get worse.

If you are an adult over the age of 40, it's important to keep a close eye on your vision and eye health. Visit your eye doctor for regular exams, and if you notice any change in your vision, make an appointment with your ophthalmologist as soon as possible. If your visual changes are caused by one of the conditions above, prompt treatment can improve your chances of maintaining your vision. Click here for more information: