You may consider getting a comprehensive eye exam somewhat low on your list of priorities, but if you’re over 40, routine exams are more important than ever. Not only do they ensure we can address any changes in your visual acuity, but they also allow us to address certain conditions that appear later in life while they’re in their earliest stages, when we can treat them most successfully.
At Precision Eye Institute, ophthalmologist Dr. Orest Krajnyk and optometrist Dr. Sean McLoughlin encourage their patients to schedule routine eye exams, especially as they approach 40 years old. Here, they discuss 5 reasons why you should make exams a priority.
Between 40 and 65, people’s eyes go through significant changes, and by the time they reach 65, 1 in 3 Americans will have developed a vision-impairing eye disease. However, the earliest signs of disease begin in midlife, and the earlier they’re found and treated, the better the chance of preserving vision.
Even if you have no symptoms or known risk factors for eye disease, it’s important to get a baseline comprehensive eye exam at age 40. That way, we have a reference point to refer back to when your vision was good.
Here are 5 eye conditions common in those 40 and over.
Have you gotten to the age when your arms aren’t long enough to hold reading material where you can see it clearly? That’s known as presbyopia, an increasing farsightedness that affects just about everyone starting around age 40.
The eye’s lens (found behind the pupil) becomes less flexible with age, making it more difficult to focus light properly on the retina in the back of your eye, and therefore harder to perform close-up tasks like reading. Untreated, presbyopia can lead to tired eyes and headaches. The remedy? Either reading glasses, if you have no prior vision correction, or bifocals, if you have corrective lenses for either myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness).
Glaucoma is a collection of eye diseases that damage your eye’s optic nerve. It usually happens due to increased intraocular pressure (IOP) from fluid buildup in the front part of your eye. The more common form, open angle glaucoma, usually presents no symptoms until the damage to the eye is irreversible, so it’s important to get checked routinely for early signs.
Your doctor tests your IOP at each eye exam with tonometry, using an air puff or a pen-like device. If your numbers are high, he can prescribe drops to bring the pressure down.
A cataract develops when proteins in your lens break down and build up on the surface, causing things to look blurry, hazy, and/or less colorful.
The most common cause of cataracts is aging, especially due to the normal eye changes that happen around age 40. Most of those over age 60 usually have some clouding of their lenses, though vision problems may not happen until years later. You’re also at risk if you:
If the doctor detects a clouding of the lens, the most effective treatment is surgical replacement of the lens.
AMD causes you to lose your central vision. You won’t be able to see anything straight ahead, though your peripheral (side) vision will be unaffected. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in people 50 years or older. Regular eye exams are important for early detection.
About 80% of patients have the dry form, where tiny protein clumps grow on the macula. There is no treatment for this form except for low vision rehabilitation.
The remainder have wet AMD, where abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina, leaking fluid into the macula and destroying it. Regular injections of Avastin, a repurposed colon cancer drug, can help slow the progression of the disease.
As you get older, the vitreous humor, another fluid-filled chamber in the eye, can shrink suddenly, releasing a host of floaters. The dark specks or lines across your vision, while annoying, are essentially harmless.
A sudden release of floaters, though, can also be a sign of a retinal detachment, which is a medical emergency. Your doctor checks the health of your retina at each eye exam.
Over 40 and haven’t had an eye exam recently? Then it’s time to come into Precision Eye Institute to make sure your eye health and your vision remain good.
Schedule an appointment with one of our doctors by calling us at any of our locations — in Edgewater, New Smyrna Beach, and Daytona Beach (Margaritaville), Florida — or booking online with us today.