Vision After 40: Conditions Targeting Aging Eyes

After age 40, most people begin to experience slight shifts in their health – most predictably in their vision health. In fact, many start playing air trombone with their reading materials because their eyes can’t focus on something less than an arm’s length away. The reason is likely presbyopia, an age-related condition that occurs around 40 and results in the inability to focus up close. Fortunately, this vision problem, along with several others that affect adults and the elderly, is fairly common and can be easily corrected if given the proper attention.

Corrective lenses can improve quality of life, especially for people in developing countries where presbyopia goes undiagnosed and is widespread. Today there are more than one billion people in the world with presbyopia and half of that population remains uncorrected. In these communities, loss of productivity due to poor vision is a significant issue as it can further damage already struggling economies. If more people around the world had access to vision care, can you imagine how economies could improve? People who didn’t even know they could see better suddenly can simply because of a pair of glasses. In a Filipino rural community, where access to eye care is limited, 84 percent reported that glasses would greatly increase their ability to earn a living. By better understanding the benefits as well as the barriers to vision correction, we can work together to design and implement programs that bring better eye health to developing countries. After all, presbyopia is not the only condition targeting aging eyes.

A study of rural Korean adults found other age-related refractive errors – myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) – to be widespread, and that the prevalence of myopia decreased with age and transitioned into hyperopia at ages 60-69 years. At this elderly stage of life, people become susceptible to more vision problems including cataracts, glaucoma and age related macular degeneration.

According to researchers, impaired vision among elderly individuals often reduces their independence as it can limit physical activity and create great risk. In fact, falls are as much as seven times more likely in the vision-impaired elderly, and the aftermath of these accidents is becoming increasingly expensive. Unless preventive strategies, such as vision correction, are put in place, the total health cost attributed to fall related injury will almost triple to $1.4 million per year as reported in this Australian study. So, while eye conditions affecting the elderly are fairly common and easily treatable, they can be debilitating both financially and physically if left uncorrected.

The research about the dramatic improvement vision correction can make to the productivity and quality of life for adults around the world reinforces my desire to advocate for the cause. Join me in positioning good visual health as a priority to improve the lives of people globally. Together, let’s continue Giving Vision a Voice.