Age-Related Vision Changes – What to Expect

Reviewed by: Selene A. Burke, OD

Vision Tips & Prevention Vision Tips & Prevention

We celebrate birthdays because there is so much to appreciate about growing older, but not every aspect of aging is welcome. Age-related vision issues can be part of the physical changes that occur as we get older. Learning more about common age-related vision changes can ease the stress of worrying about how your eyes may change as you age.

Four Vision Changes You May Experience As You Age

Acclaimed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” We want to make sure you are able to see all the beauty life has to offer! Knowing what to expect can help you plan to take care of your eye health.


Presbyopia is a naturally occurring condition that affects over a billion people worldwide, primarily those over 40-years-old. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Progress in Retinal and Eye Research Presbyopia: Effectiveness of correction strategies Go to Source 1 Presbyopia is characterized by age-related near vision loss, which is caused by changes in the shape, size, and flexibility of the eye’s lens. Although the age at which you notice it can vary, presbyopia will affect everyone eventually. The loss of near vision is gradual and people typically compensate by holding reading material further away from their face, squinting, or changing their glasses prescription. Reading glasses are the traditional way people handle presbyopia, but your eye doctor can discuss your treatment options with you.


Cataracts are an eye disease in which the lens of the eye becomes clouded. Cataracts are very common, affecting more than 24 million Americans over the age of 40 and about half of those over the age of 75. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Cataracts Defined National Eye Institute Go to Source 2 Symptoms of cataracts include blurry vision and difficulty seeing at night. Cataracts require surgery to restore vision, but the cataract removal process is a very common procedure. Over 3 million cataract surgeries are performed each year in the United States. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Thoughts on cataract surgery Review of Ophthalmology Go to Source 3

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can affect people of all ages, but this uncomfortable condition can become more prevalent with age. There are a number of potential causes for dry eye, including decreased tear production, hormonal changes, and environmental factors. Dry eye symptoms, such as redness and irritation, can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription eye drops or various procedures. Patients with chronic dry eyes can benefit from additional doctor-recommended treatment options. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Facts About Dry Eye National Eye Institute Go to Source 4

Changing Light Sensitivity

Difficulty seeing well at night or in low light can be one of the first signs of several age-related vision conditions. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Vision-targeted health related quality of life in older adults BMC Ophthalmology Go to Source 5 The need for brighter light in order to focus can create challenges for reading, enjoying hobbies, or traveling at night. Talk to your eye doctor if you find yourself having trouble focusing in lower light situations.

The Importance of Eye Exams after Age 40

There is no need to panic at the thought of age-related vision changes, but you should also be proactive in caring for your eye health. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that everyone have an eye exam at age 40, even if you have never had any previous vision issues. In 2020, AAO estimates that 43 million Americans may be at risk of experiencing significant vision loss due to age-related eye diseases. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Get a Baseline Eye Exam at Age 40 American Academy of Ophthalmology Go to Source 6 Find an experienced ophthalmologist near you and schedule an annual comprehensive eye exam as part of your self-care routine.

Trusetd Source Checkbox  Sources

1 Wolffsohn J, Davies L. Presbyopia: Effectiveness of correction strategies. Progress in Retinal and Eye Research. January 2019; Volume 68: Pages 124-143
2 National Eye Institute. Cataracts Defined. Accessed August 20, 2019.
3 Lindstrom R. Thoughts on cataract surgery. Review of Ophthalmology. 9 March 2015
4 National Eye Institute. Facts About Dry Eye. Accessed August 20, 2019.
5 Owsley C, McGwin Jr G. Vision-targeted health related quality of life in older adults. BMC Ophthalmology. 07 July 2016; Volume 16, Article number: 92.
6 American Academy of Ophthalmology. Get a Baseline Eye Exam at Age 40. Accessed August 21, 2019.

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