Getting older is like navigating through the Wild West. You’re not sure what will happen next, and the most unusual things occur when you are least prepared. Your eye care is no exception to this mysterious process, and your Phoenix doctor of optometry wants you to understand the eye care issues you may face after reaching the half-century mark.

Vision Changes

For most near- or farsighted people, your vision stabilizes in your twenties. After that, optometry exams will not result in very dramatic prescription changes unless you have a significant medical problem or injury. However, in your early fifties, you may notice that small print is very difficult to read. Your eye doctor may recommend reading glasses or bifocals to help. You may also notice that you need more light to see well, so make sure you use an adequate light source when reading to avoid eye strain.

Eye Disease

Three scary eye issues can arise as you age, and these are Cataracts, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, and Glaucoma. Cataracts develop when deposits on your eye’s lens lead to clouding or discoloration of the lens. Light cannot easily enter the eye and it may be difficult for you to see in low light situations or notice color contrast. Cataracts are very common and treatment is the surgical replacement of your eye’s lens. As a bonus, your near- or farsightedness is often significantly improved after cataract surgery.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a frightening disease so subtle that you may not notice vision loss until it is quite substantial. In AMD, deposits build up in the macula area of your retina. Since the macula is responsible for the central part of your vision, this part of your sight slowly begins to disappear. Vision loss from AMD is permanent.

Lastly, Glaucoma results when high eye pressure eventually damages the optic nerve, destroying your vision. Optometry patients with diabetes have almost double the risk for glaucoma and should be especially vigilant any time that they notice a change in their eye health. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness, but can be prevented with special medication.

Many of the eye changes after 50 are painless and subtle, so it is critical to have an optometry exam every year. Your eye doctor can spot developing problems in the early stages and help you manage them effectively for continued years of healthy sight.