Here’s what you can do to take care of your eyes when you’re over 40
If you’re over 40 and regularly have tired eyes or have trouble reading on your phone, you may be one of the 1.6 million New Zealanders who admit their vision has gone downhill. deteriorated over the past decade.
According to a study commissioned by Specsavers, more than 82% of New Zealanders over 40 admit to having noticed that their vision has deteriorated in the past ten years. Despite this, up to one in three people (31%) have not had an eye test for more than three years.
So why is being 40 important when it comes to eye health? Specsavers optometrist Ian Russell says 40 is the age most of us start to notice sight problems. However, problems with eyesight can start much earlier without our realizing it and can be caused by many different factors.
“People over 40 are starting to notice that it’s a little harder to read the fine print and by age 65 almost all of us will need to wear glasses to correct our vision,” says Russell.
An easy way to help prevent and monitor potential eye conditions is to make an annual or biennial eye test part of your checkup routine.
“The sooner we can spot a problem, the sooner you can access treatment and the better the chance that your vision will be maintained as you get older,” says Russell.
Here are the most common eye conditions that affect people over 40:
Presbyopia is the most common eye disease in people over 40 and occurs when the flexible lens at the front of the eye, which allows us to see near and far, begins to lose elasticity. and has an impact on our ability to concentrate.
“As we age, the lens of the eye hardens, making it difficult to focus when we read. However, we can help manage the effects with glasses or contact lenses,” says Russell.
Age-related macular degeneration is a degenerative eye disease that damages the macula – the central part of the retina – resulting in progressive loss of central vision. It is generally associated with aging and is the leading cause of blindness in New Zealand.
“The earlier we detect age-related macular degeneration, the sooner you can be referred for treatment and the better our chances of preventing further deterioration,” explains Russell.
“Unfortunately, any vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration is irreversible.”
Cataracts are one of the most common causes of blurred vision and vision loss worldwide and are clouding of the naturally clear lens of the eye. When this happens, the amount of light passing through the lens is minimized and scattered, meaning the image cannot be properly focused on the retina.
Symptoms include blurry and cloudy vision, faded-looking colors, double vision, or a halo around bright lights.
“Cataracts are strongly linked to aging, but can also be caused by sun exposure and smoking. We have access to excellent ophthalmologists in New Zealand who can repair cataracts with minimum wait time and time. ‘excellent end results,’ explains Russell.
If you live with diabetes, your eyes are at risk for damage from diabetic retinopathy, which is one of the most common complications associated with diabetes. If left untreated, it can lead to vision loss and is the leading cause of preventable blindness in New Zealand.
“We can very easily detect the signs of diabetic retinopathy during an eye exam and people with diabetes should have their eyes tested regularly,” says Russell.
A group of eye diseases that can damage the optic nerve – which connects the eye to the brain – glaucoma often results in progressive loss of peripheral vision.
Glaucoma is known as the “silent thief of sight” because people with early stage glaucoma have no symptoms. Vision loss occurs at such a gradual rate that it often goes unnoticed until it is too late and the sight loss due to glaucoma is irreversible.
“Thanks to new technologies, detection has become easier because we now have access to much more detailed information about the granular structures of the eye,” explains Russell.
For everything you need to know on how to protect your 40+ eyes, visit specsavers.co.nz.