man reading in park

We’ve all seen — or been one of those — people who hold an object arm’s length away just to have some hope of reading the text.

It’s common as you age for your vision to change. Some people have difficulty with reading small print, while others need brighter light or bifocal glasses to see the words printed on the page.

While it may seem like a very personal, telltale sign of “growing old,” these changes in vision are actually experienced by many. While you should certainly make an appointment with your eye doctor to monitor changes in your vision over time, it’s never a bad idea to learn more about some of the most common age-related vision problems out there, so you can better understand any of the changes you may be “seeing.”

Vision Changes

Presbyopia is the cause of the infamous arm’s length reading tactic and normal age-related vision change. Andrew Eller, MD, director of Ocular Trauma at the UPMC Vision Institute explains, “With presbyopia, the lens of the eye begins to harden and results in the loss of the normal ability to focus. For most, reading glasses or a change in prescription will be enough to correct vision impairment. Others consider options such as laser vision correction.”

Increased Risk for Eye Disease

As we age we’re not only at a risk for worsening eyesight, but we’re also at an increased risk for developing a variety of eye diseases.

Common age-related eye conditions include:

  • Age-related macular degeneration – Macular degeneration causes damage to the retina, which leads to blurry vision in the center of the visual plane (reverse tunnel vision).
  • Cataracts – Cataracts are the clouding of the lenses and the most common cause of vision loss.
  • Eye floaters – Sudden onset of floaters is an urgent indication for an eye exam as they may be a sign of a retinal tear or detachment. Long standing eye floaters are generally a nuisance, but not a problem.
  • Glaucoma – Glaucoma, the second most common cause of blindness, may be associated with high pressure inside the eye that can lead to damage of the optic nerve.

Vision Loss and Eye Disorder Treatment Options

The good news is that the common causes of vision loss all have treatment options. While not all of them are curable, there are steps that you and your doctor can take to manage symptoms and stabilize the disease progression.

Certain Foods May Help with Vision

While there aren’t any foods that can reverse worsening eyesight or eye disease there are some foods that may reduce the risk of or slow development of eye conditions. Dr. Eller recommends:

  • Leafy greens – kale, spinach, lettuce
  • Berries – blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, etc.
  • Vitamin C-rich foods – Oranges, grapefruits, broccoli
  • Carotene rich food – Carrots, sweet potatoes

Consult your eye doctor for yearly eye exams and anytime you notice a change in your vision. For more information, visit the UPMC Vision Institute online or call 412-647-2200 to schedule an appointment.