How Your Vision Changes After 40

August 23, 2021 |read icon 4 min read

After age 40, many people notice changes in their bodies, including their vision. Suddenly people are reaching for reading glasses, often called readers, to see the keyboard or other close-up objects. Or, adults with prescription eyeglasses need bifocal or trifocal lenses to read signs or see things far away. Eye doctors say these changes are normal. Here’s how your vision changes after 40.

1. Muscle weakness

As we age, gravity takes a toll on our bodies. Muscles that once were taut and adjusted to daily eye movement suddenly don’t work the same. These changes can affect how you see.

2. Farsightedness

As the eyes change, you may develop farsightedness, called presbyopia. You can see far away, but have issues seeing objects up close. You may notice changes in how quickly your eyes adjust when looking at things at a distance vs. nearby. The eye muscles take a few seconds longer to focus, so objects may look fuzzy at first.

3. Nearsightedness

Often called myopia, people with nearsightedness can see up close, but have problems seeing objects in the distance. Vision professionals say myopia is a common vision condition. It develops when the shape of the eye changes, causing light rays to bend incorrectly.

4. Cataracts

As you age and your eye muscles weaken, you may develop cataracts. Eye doctors describe a cataract as a clouding of the eye’s naturally clear lens. It occurs when the shape of your eye causes light rays to bend (refract) incorrectly, focusing images in front of your retina instead of on your retina. Many people have surgery to remove cataracts. Learn more about cataract lenses and surgery.

5. Eye disease

After age 40, you may be at higher risk for developing an eye disease, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. While there isn’t a cure for these diseases, your eye doctor can recommend treatment options to help protect your vision.

6. Dry eye

After age 35, many women and some men experience problems with dry eyes. Often people in this age group use digital devices for several hours daily. Dry eyes can develop if digital users forget to blink and look away from their screens. Give eyes a break by following the 20-20-20 guideline. After viewing a screen for 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

If you live in a dry environment or your home has little humidity, you are at greater risk for dry eyes. Talk with your eye doctor about treatment options.

7. Night blindness

As eye muscles weaken, the photoreceptors in your eyes may change. When this happens, you may have problems seeing clearly in the dark, known as night blindness. It may be difficult to read signs when driving at night, or the glare from lights may bother your eyes. Tell your eye doctor about these problems and discuss prescription changes that could improve your night vision.

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