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Senior Vision: Modern Solutions for Aging Eyes

Senior man eyes

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Though the fact may seem easy to overlook, your eyes age with the rest of you. In fact, a high percentage of older adults experience eye issues. Over 12 million Americans aged 40 and older are diagnosed with vision impairments. Of those, 4.2 million live with uncorrectable conditions. Another million are blind. 

Most of these issues are preventable through best practices like eye exams, regular sunglasses wear, and proper diet and exercise. However, older adults already diagnosed with these vision impairments need not worry: medical advancements mean they can now manage their conditions more effectively and prevent them from progressing further. Here are just some of the modern solutions designed to treat common conditions that afflict aging eyes. 

Presbyopia: reading glasses

The reason why you're likely to experience presbyopia when you're older is that it comes about as a natural result of aging. Your eyes' lenses harden and become less flexible, making it more challenging for them to adjust when you need to look at things up close. That's also why plenty of older adults buy reading glasses. These help magnify what you see, allowing for improved comfort and clarity. However, eyewear brand Readers shows that modern reading glasses can go even further for people who need them. You can get them with blue light filters designed for reading on devices, UV-blocking lenses so they can double as sunglasses for outdoor use, and even multifocal lenses that correct vision at different distances. With a broader range of options available, older adults living with presbyopia can easily manage the condition in ways that suit their unique lifestyles and needs. 

Age-related macular degeneration: supplements 

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is another condition that commonly develops over time. It occurs when the macula, the part of the eye that provides central vision, thins with age and takes away that crucial component of one's eyesight. Often, AMD can't be treated until it progresses because it doesn't exhibit early symptoms. Fortunately, you can take supplements to treat it. With a revised formula, they can now do so better than ever before. In 2022, the National Eye Institute discovered that supplements containing lutein and zeaxanthin—compounds naturally found in the retina—were 20% more effective at preventing late AMD symptoms compared to their predecessors, which contained beta-carotene, a pigment linked to lung cancer. Dubbed AREDS2, these new supplements can be just what older AMD patients need to prevent their eyes from developing a more severe, advanced version of the condition.

Cataracts: improved surgery 

Cataracts are similarly prevalent among seniors due to the natural impacts of aging—more specifically, because the proteins in your eyes' lenses start breaking down and forming clumps once you hit 40. These can cloud your vision over time, causing the milky film characteristic of cataracts. The most common treatment for this condition is cataract surgery, which removes these proteins from the eye. This procedure is becoming even more sophisticated thanks to modern medical advancements. Ophthalmologists from Yale Medicine particularly note the benefits of laser-assisted surgery for precisely cutting through even denser cataracts and facilitating faster healing and recovery. These new methods also allow surgeons to more easily insert prescription lenses into the eyes for further vision correction beyond just cataract removal—so patients can truly enjoy clearer eyesight, even as seniors. 

Glaucoma: low-vision spectacles 

Though glaucoma can occur at any age, it's significantly more present among older populations because of gradual damage to the optic nerve. This damage can be exacerbated by high ocular pressure, which in turn can be caused by conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. That makes glaucoma one of the leading causes of blindness for adults over 60. Fortunately, eyewear can help patients work around the impairments it causes. Older adults with glaucoma can use low-vision spectacles that leverage prisms, telescopic lenses, and high-plus lenses to supplement glaucoma-related central and peripheral vision loss. Additional eyewear from brands like TheraSpecs can provide even more functionality. These offer dedicated glaucoma glasses and sunglasses specifically designed to relieve pain caused by the light sensitivity, headaches, and migraines that come with glaucoma, which can help significantly lower the negative impact the condition has on one's quality of life. 

Aging eyes can experience a number of detrimental conditions—but with modern solutions, senior vision can stay healthier for longer.