15 Vision Changes You May Experience After Age 40

Growing older poses specific health challenges because our bodies change as we age.

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40s and Beyond

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Growing older poses specific health challenges because our bodies change as we age.

For example, vision changes begin to occur from the 40s and beyond. However, changes in the eyes occur slowly over the decades and only become prominent when you become a quadragenarian. Unfortunately, these vision changes continue to progress over time.

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Why Vision Changes

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Board-certified and fellowship-trained ophthalmologist Yuna Rapoport explains that we have better eyesight at a younger age because our lens does something called accommodation. The zonules that hold the lens together relax during this process, and the lens thickens. This, however, changes with age.

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1. Presbyopia

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According to Rapoport, the zonules and tissues that hold the lens in place become tense, and the lens cannot expand to bring the reading material into focus. “This is known as presbyopia, and it affects everyone in their 40s, though some patients experience it earlier than others,” she says.

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Tromboning

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Presbyopia, also known as farsightedness, impairs your ability to see distant objects but not ones close up. As a result, you find yourself “tromboning” materials in and out of close proximity because the eyes can't focus on close objects.

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2. Concentration Speed

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When viewing something from a distance or up close, you may notice a difference in how quickly your eyes focus. Initially, things may appear hazy because the eye muscles take longer to focus. As a result, there's a slower concentration speed.

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Contacts or Glasses

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If you don't already wear glasses, you'll likely need them now. People who wear contacts or glasses may need to switch to bifocal, progressive, or multifocal lenses to see clearly. According to Bhavin Shah, Behavioral Optometrist at Central Vision Opticians and in his 40s, other changes occur as you age.

Although not everyone experiences the same symptoms, he admits there are other common aging-related vision changes. So besides presbyopia, here are additional ways vision starts changing after 40.

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3. Difficulty Adapting to Changing Light Levels

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Reading in a dimly lit room or area becomes more challenging as you age. You would need brighter lights to read and efficiently perform other close-up tasks.

Our eyes begin to restrict the amount of light admitted and absorbed and become increasingly sensitive. It also becomes more challenging to transition from bright to dark environments and back again as the muscles that control the pupil weaken over time.

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More Light

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Besides the eyes becoming less responsive to light, less light can enter the eye due to the muscles weakening and the pupil growing smaller. In addition, as we age, the number of rods in our eyes may decrease, making it more challenging to see in dim light.

Older eyes require more contrast and light to see at this point than younger ones. Some kinds of light can help us as we get older. Since older eyes take longer to adjust to changes in light, rooms with the same amount of ambient light can help.

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4. Halos

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According to Shah, some people have difficulty with glare and halos; they may notice halos from headlights from cars in the dark. This halo results from a reduction in the ability of the retina to adapt to different light levels or the early stages of cataracts.

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Glare

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Changes in the lenses in your eyes cause light entering the eye to be spread out or scattered rather than focused precisely on the retina, which causes glare.

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5. Alterations in Color Perception Over Time

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We become less able to distinguish minute differences between colors that appear to be similar. This problem occurs because the retinal cells necessary for normal color vision become less sensitive as we age. Due to this, colors are less vivid and easier to distinguish. As a result, colors, especially blue ones, can appear lifeless or “washed out.” This condition may be irreversible; however, cataract surgery could restore your color vision.

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6. Decreased Tear Production

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Less active tear glands, a change in lifestyle, hormonal changes, or aging-related changes to the eyelids may also contribute to this, Shah says. As a result, it might feel scratchy and dry. As you get older, your tear glands will produce fewer tears overall. According to Rapoport, dry eye is treated with silicone or collagen plugs.

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7. Floaters

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Shah also notes that people who have trouble seeing far off may already have floaters. He explains that our eye jelly shrinks and contracts as we age into our 40s and new floaters appear. Floaters appear as spots or shadows moving across your field of vision.

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Flashing Lights

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While they might not be harmful, they are a common side effect of aging and can be uncomfortable. It becomes a problem if you notice more floaters than usual and bright, flashing lights. More floaters might indicate that the retina is torn and on the verge of coming loose, which should be fixed immediately to prevent profound vision loss.

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8. Cloudy Vision

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Some older people may experience blur when viewing things from a distance or close up. Among other things, they have difficulty reading, driving, and seeing the TV. A new glasses prescription may suffice for some with not-so-severe symptoms.

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Hazy Vision

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However, surgery becomes the solution when it gets in the way of daily tasks for some others. During this procedure, an ophthalmologist will swap out the cloudy lens for a fresh artificial lens. According to Shah, this change usually manifests in the 60s due to haziness in the eye's lens, which often increases light glare and affects color vision.

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9. Difficulty Seeing Distant Objects

Blurry vision
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Eyeballs that become too long or a curved cornea may hinder your ability to see distant objects clearly while having good vision up close. However, Shah suggests it is highly uncommon for someone to become nearsighted or experience increased nearsightedness in their 40s.

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10. Myopia

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He explains that myopia begins in the early 20s and may continue a little longer if someone does a lot of close work. He says that it shouldn't change in the 30s-60s. He advises investigating the changes if a person of that age notices them because they could be early indications of diabetes or cataracts.

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11. Night Blindness

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As one grows older, many things can contribute to poor night vision. Night blindness is primarily due to damage to the rod cells that enable us to see at night.

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12. Eye Diseases

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Eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, and nearsightedness may affect the rod cells and cause night blindness.

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13. Tunnel Vision

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This happens when you can only see things in front of you and in the peripheral if you turn your head or move your eyes. The inability to see things from the corner of your eye can be a sign of glaucoma or other eye health problems.

Sometimes, it feels like you're in a narrow tunnel, which is why it's also referred to as tunnel vision. Most times, this condition cannot be reversed. However, a doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or treatments to help manage your tunnel vision.

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14. Distorted Images

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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) blurs straight lines and makes them wavy. This disease causes a blind spot in the middle of your vision. AMD affects the macula, which controls your central vision in your central retina. Eye care professionals usually administer treatments that could contain the progression of the disease.

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15. Fluctuating Vision

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Alterations in your ability to see things clearly may be a tell-tale sign of other underlying health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure. These illnesses damage a part of the retina that is sensitive to light. In some cases, this vision impairment can last indefinitely.

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Treatments

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According to Rapoport, glasses can treat far and nearsightedness. On the other hand, night blindness decreases color vision, and floaters can't be reversed. The same goes for tunnel vision and macular degeneration, which can only be managed.

Experiencing changes in eyesight as you age can not be prevented, especially in the specific case of presbyopia. “Still, there are other suggestions one can make to improve the eye's health,” Rapoport explains.

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Take Screen Breaks

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She suggests using plenty of lubricating drops when spending time on screens and occasionally looking away from the screen. “Making sure to wear UV-A and UV-B protective sunscreen and a hat can help decrease sun damage such as early cataracts, pinguecula or pterygium, and skin cancers around the eye,” says Rapoport.

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AOA Recommendations

AOA recommendations
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Once you reach 40 and above, the American Optometric Association recommends yearly eye exams with people over 65 years scheduling bi-yearly exams.

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More Articles from the Wealth of Geeks Network:

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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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Amaka Chukwuma is a freelance content writer with a BA in linguistics. As a result of her insatiable curiosity, she writes in various B2C and B2B niches. Her favorite subject matter, however, is in the financial, health, and technological niches. She has contributed to publications like ButtonwoodTree and FinanceBuzz in the past. In addition to ghostwriting for brands like Welovenocode, Noah and Zoey, and Ohcleo, amongst others.  You can connect with her on Linkedin and Twitter.