How Your Eyes Change as You Age

As 2024 begins, make protecting your vision a top priority. Your eyes enable you to experience the world around you, so safeguarding your sight should be essential. This year, learn about common eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, and dry eyes. Discover their causes, symptoms, and treatments so you can take action if needed. Understand refractive errors and options to correct vision. Additionally, find out how diabetes impacts eyes. With knowledge and proactive care, you can detect issues early and preserve your precious gift of sight. Let these eye health tips equip you to prioritize your vision in 2024.

eye health

Common Age-Related Eye Conditions to Watch For


As you get older, the lens in your eye becomes less flexible, making it difficult to focus on close-up objects. This condition is known as presbyopia and typically starts around age 40. Reading glasses or bifocals can help correct presbyopia.


A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye. Cataracts often develop slowly and painlessly, but can eventually interfere with your vision. The most common symptoms are blurry vision, difficulty seeing at night, and sensitivity to glare. Cataract surgery, in which the clouded lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens, can restore vision.


Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases in which damage to the optic nerve leads to vision loss. The most common form is open-angle glaucoma, in which fluid builds up in the eye and increases pressure. There are often no symptoms in the early stages, so regular eye exams are important to monitor for glaucoma, especially after age 60. Treatment like medicated eye drops can help control eye pressure and prevent vision loss.

Diabetic Retinopathy

High blood sugar from diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This is known as diabetic retinopathy, and it’s a leading cause of vision loss in people with diabetes. Controlling your diabetes and blood pressure, limiting alcohol, quitting smoking, and getting regular dilated eye exams can help prevent or slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy. Treatment options for more advanced cases include injections of medication into the eye, laser therapy, and retinal surgery.

Dry Eye Syndrome

As you get older, your eyes produce fewer tears, which can lead to dry eye syndrome. Symptoms include stinging, burning, and gritty eyes, excessive eye rubbing, and difficulty wearing contact lenses. Artificial tears, eye ointments, eyelid wipes, warm compresses, and medications can help relieve symptoms and keep your eyes lubricated. In severe cases, eye procedures may be recommended to block tear ducts or implant tear duct plugs.

Symptoms of Cataracts and Treatment Options


As you age, the lens of your eye gradually becomes cloudy, causing cataracts. Cataracts often develop slowly and painlessly, so you may not notice the blurry vision at first. Early signs include needing more light for reading and difficulty driving at night. Cataract surgery, where the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens, is typically an outpatient procedure with a high success rate of restoring clear vision.


Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases where the optic nerve is damaged, often due to high eye pressure. Glaucoma usually has no symptoms at first but can lead to vision loss if left untreated. Eye drops or surgery are often effective at controlling glaucoma, but early detection is key. Anyone over 60, especially those with a family history of glaucoma, should get a comprehensive eye exam to check for signs of glaucoma.

Dry Eyes

As we age, our eyes produce fewer tears, which can lead to dry eyes. Symptoms include stinging, burning, and itchy eyes, as well as blurred vision. Artificial tears, warm compresses, and humidifiers can help relieve dry eyes. In severe cases, prescription eye drops may be needed to stimulate tear production.

Refractive Errors

Age-related vision changes can also include refractive errors like presbyopia (difficulty focusing on close-up objects), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (blurred vision). These common conditions are typically corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery like LASIK.

Regular eye exams, especially as you get older, are the best way to monitor your vision and catch any age-related eye diseases early before vision loss occurs. By understanding common eye conditions, you can take an active role in protecting your vision for years to come.

Understanding Glaucoma: Causes, Symptoms, and Management

Vision Changes

The most common symptoms of cataracts are vision changes like:

  • Cloudy or blurred vision. As cataracts develop, your vision may become cloudy, foggy, or filmy.
  • Difficulty seeing at night. You may experience difficulty seeing in dim light or at night.
  • Sensitivity to glare. Bright lights may appear glaring or irritating.
  • Double vision or halos. You may see double images of objects or halos around lights.
  • Fading or yellowing of colors. Colors may not appear as bright or vivid as they once did.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If cataracts are suspected based on symptoms, an eye doctor will conduct an eye exam to check for cataracts and determine if treatment is needed. The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery to remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens. Cataract surgery is a very common procedure with a high success rate of improving vision.

Surgery Options

There are two main types of cataract surgery:

  • Phacoemulsification, the most common method, uses ultrasound to break up the lens into small pieces to be suctioned out. A lens implant is then placed in the empty lens capsule.
  • Extracapsular surgery involves making a larger incision to remove the lens in one piece. It has a higher chance of complications and longer recovery time but may be used for more complex cases.

In most cases, cataract surgery provides significant visual improvements and few risks when performed by an experienced ophthalmologist. The new lens implant should provide clear vision for many years with regular eye exams to monitor your eye health and vision.

While surgery is currently the only option to remove cataracts, future treatment options may include eye drops or oral medications to slow the progression of cataracts and reduce the need for surgery for some patients. Ongoing research aims to find new ways to prevent and treat this common cause of vision loss.

Dry Eyes: Causes of Dry Eye Syndrome and Relief Tips

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye disorders that damage the optic nerve, the bundle of nerves that transmits visual information from the eye to the brain. It is often linked to high eye pressure, known as intraocular pressure (IOP), that builds up in the eye. However, glaucoma can develop even with normal IOP. The increased pressure causes gradual damage to the optic nerve, resulting in loss of peripheral vision.

Causes and Risk Factors

The most common types of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma, are linked to poor drainage of aqueous fluid in the eye. Other risk factors include:

  • Age: Glaucoma becomes more common as you get older.
  • Ethnicity: Glaucoma is more prevalent in African Americans and Hispanics compared to Caucasians.
  • Family history: Glaucoma seems to run in families, so having a family member with glaucoma increases your risk.
  • Medical conditions: Chronic conditions like diabetes, hypothyroidism, and hypertension can increase glaucoma risk.


Unfortunately, glaucoma rarely causes any symptoms in its early stages as vision loss begins on the peripheral . By the time symptoms are noticed, permanent vision loss may have already occurred. Common symptoms include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Halos around lights
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Eye redness
  • Eye pain

Treatment and Management

Glaucoma cannot be cured, but treatment can help slow or prevent further vision loss. The most common options include:

  • Eye drops: Glaucoma eye drops help lower IOP by reducing fluid production or improving drainage. Multiple drops may be needed for control.
  • Laser therapy: Laser treatment opens up drainage channels to help fluid flow out of the eye more easily. Multiple treatments may be required.
  • Surgery: Conventional surgery creates a new drainage channel for fluid to leave the eye. Minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries are newer alternatives.
  • Lifestyle changes: Exercise, limiting caffeine intake, and sleeping with your head slightly raised can also help lower IOP.

To manage glaucoma, see your eye doctor for regular eye exams, take all medications as prescribed, and make recommended lifestyle changes. With proper treatment and monitoring, further vision loss from glaucoma can often be prevented.

Nearsightedness, Farsightedness, and Presbyopia Explained

Causes of Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome occurs when your eyes do not produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly. Several factors can contribute to dry eye syndrome:

  • Age: As you get older, your eyes produce fewer tears. Dry eye syndrome is most common in older adults.
  • Medications: Some medications like antihistamines, decongestants, and antidepressants can reduce tear production as a side effect.
  • Medical conditions: Certain autoimmune diseases like Sjogren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus can inflame and damage the tear glands. Diabetes and thyroid disease can also contribute to dry eye syndrome.
  • Environment: Dry, hot, and windy conditions can speed up tear evaporation and irritate your eyes. Staring at digital screens and indoor heating and cooling can also dry out your eyes.

Relief Tips for Dry Eye Syndrome

Use Over-the-Counter Eye Drops

Artificial tears, gels, and ointments can help keep your eyes lubricated. Look for preservative-free drops for the most natural relief. Use as directed to keep your eyes comfortably lubricated.

Limit Screen Time and Take Breaks

Reduce eye strain by limiting screen time when possible. Take regular breaks to look away from the screen and focus on distant objects. This helps reduce eye dryness and irritation.

Use a Warm Washcloth Compress

A warm washcloth compress can help stimulate tear production and open up your tear ducts. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes, a few times per day to relieve dry eye discomfort.

Increase Humidity

Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air, especially in dry, heated indoor environments. A humidity level of 40 to 50% can help relieve dry eye symptoms.

See an Eye Doctor for Prescription Treatment

For persistent or severe dry eye syndrome, prescription eye drops, oral medications, or in severe cases, minor procedures may be recommended to stimulate tear production or seal and protect the eyes. An eye doctor can determine the underlying cause of your dry eyes and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

With attention to the causes and proper self-care, relief from dry eye syndrome can be found. Be consistent in using treatments as directed by your eye doctor to keep your eyes lubricated, protect your vision, and avoid complications. Your eyes will thank you for the care and comfort.

How Diabetes Can Affect Your Eye Health

Nearsightedness (Myopia)

If you are nearsighted, objects in the distance appear blurry while close-up vision remains clear. This occurs when the cornea and lens focus the image in front of the retina instead of directly on it. Nearsightedness is often caused by an elongated eyeball or cornea. The most common treatments for nearsightedness are glasses, contact lenses, and refractive surgery like LASIK.

Farsightedness (Hyperopia)

With farsightedness, distant objects are clear but close-up vision is blurry. This happens when the cornea and lens focus the image behind the retina. Farsightedness is often caused by a shorter than average eyeball. Like nearsightedness, the primary treatments are glasses, contact lenses, and refractive surgery.


As we age, the lens inside our eye loses flexibility, making it difficult to focus on close-up objects. This age-related condition is known as presbyopia. People typically start noticing symptoms of presbyopia in their early to mid-40s. The most common treatments for presbyopia are reading glasses, bifocals, trifocals, or multifocal contact lenses. Laser treatments and lens implants can also provide more permanent solutions for presbyopia.

Refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and presbyopia are very common and the good news is treatment options abound. By understanding the causes and symptoms of these conditions, you can work with your eye care professional to determine the best solution for your needs and lifestyle. Protecting your vision and eye health is essential as you age, so make sure to get regular comprehensive eye exams to monitor for any changes or signs of disease. With the variety of treatment options now available, no one has to settle for blurry vision.

Easy Ways to Protect Your Vision Daily

If you have diabetes, monitoring and protecting your eye health is critical. High blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can damage the tiny blood vessels in your eyes, leading to vision loss and even blindness. Two of the most common eye conditions linked to diabetes are diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The damaged blood vessels leak fluid or bleed, distorting vision. As the condition progresses, new fragile blood vessels may form and hemorrhage, scarring the retina. Diabetic retinopathy often has no early symptoms, so regular eye exams are vital to detect changes early. Treatment like injections of anti-VEGF drugs can slow or prevent vision loss if caught early.

Diabetic Macular Edema

Diabetic macular edema (DME) refers to swelling of the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sharp central vision. DME develops when leaky blood vessels caused by diabetes lead to fluid buildup in the macula. Symptoms include blurred vision, distorted vision, and difficulty seeing details. Like diabetic retinopathy, DME often has no symptoms in its early stages. Treatment options include injections of corticosteroids or anti-VEGF drugs to reduce inflammation and slow leakage.

To help prevent and manage eye complications from diabetes, maintain good blood sugar control, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking. Be sure to get a comprehensive eye exam from an ophthalmologist at least once a year to check for signs of damage. By taking action to protect your vision, you can reduce the risk of vision loss from diabetes and maintain clear, healthy eyesight for years to come.

Eye Health FAQs: Your Top Vision Questions Answered

To maintain eye health and vision, it is vital to develop good habits and take precautions daily. Some straightforward steps you can take include:

  • Limit screen time and take regular breaks. Excessive use of digital devices can contribute to digital eye strain and dry eyes. Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look away from the screen and focus on distant objects. This helps reduce eye strain and fatigue.
  • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoking is terrible for eye health and a major risk factor for age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and other vision issues. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
  • Eat an eye-healthy diet. A balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens like spinach and kale, supports eye health. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, are also beneficial. Staying hydrated, limiting salt and sugar intake, and maintaining a healthy weight can also help reduce your risks of vision problems.
  • Wear sunglasses outside. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can damage your eyes over time. Look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Wear them whenever you go outside, even on cloudy or hazy days.
  • Get regular comprehensive eye exams. For most adults, an eye exam once every 1 to 2 years is recommended based on your age and eye health risks. Eye exams can detect vision issues and health conditions like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration early before symptoms appear. Early detection and treatment of vision problems are critical to preventing vision loss.

Making healthy vision a priority and protecting your eyes daily with simple steps can help ensure many years of clear and healthy sight. Following the recommendations of your eye doctor, limiting risks, and maintaining a comprehensive eye care plan are the best ways to safeguard your vision over the long run.

Eclipse Optics: Functional Eyewear

Eclipse Optics offers a range of functional eyewear designed to protect your vision in today's digital age. Their blue light glasses are specifically designed to filter out harmful blue light emitted by digital screens, reducing eye strain and improving sleep quality. Whether you spend long hours in front of a computer or frequently use your smartphone, Eclipse Optics has a solution to help maintain your eye health and comfort.

Roger Sarkis