Is Your Blurry Vision Normal Aging or Something More?

Glaucoma and cataracts are both problems that can affect your vision and become more common as you get older, but beyond that, the two conditions are very different. Cataracts are a natural, age-related condition that occur when the lens in the front of the eye becomes cloudy. They don’t cause symptoms early on, but over time, you start to feel like you’re looking through a cloudy or dirty window. You might also notice blurriness, trouble seeing at night, double vision, or lights that seem too bright or have a halo around them. Starting in your 40s, age-related wear and tear causes the proteins of lens to be altered and fiber cells to becomes damaged, setting the stage for cataracts. Over the course of years or decades, that can lead to changes in vision like the ones mentioned above. Sun exposure, smoking, uncontrolled high blood sugar and eye injuries can factor in, too. 

Glaucoma isn’t a normal age-related process. It often happens when pressure builds up in the eye. Uncontrolled high blood sugar or high blood pressure, which can damage the small vessels in your eyes, may also be risk factors for glaucoma. This compresses and damages the optic nerve, making it harder to for the nerve to transmit information from the eye to the brain. It’s like a garden hose that’s being squeezed or bent and less water comes through. So, what can you do? Here are a few suggestions to keep your sight sharp. 

  1. 1. Annual eye exams are the No. 1 way to catch cataracts and glaucoma early, before they start to affect your vision. 
  2. 2. Wear sunglasses. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays can hasten damage to your eyes’ lenses and raise the risk for cataracts. You can protect your eyes from up to 95% of the sun’s damaging UV rays just by slipping on a pair of sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat when you head outside (even if it’s cloudy). 
  3. 3. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is helpful, since overall health definitely helps with eye health. People who eat 6 or more servings of vegetables each day are less likely to get cataracts. 
  4. 4. Dance during commercials. Get in the habit of moving and shaking for a few minutes when your favorite show cuts to a break. People who spend much of the day standing or walking instead of sitting have a 58% lower risk of glaucoma.