Eyesight Trouble & Reasons to Catch it Early

Looking back at your 20s and 30s is easy, almost too easy. They say that when it comes to hindsight, it is usually a perfect 20/20, but I certainly wish I had seen some of the things that were bound to happen back then. Maybe I would not have been so prone to oversight when I still had good eyesight.

Field of Vision: What I Wish I Knew

According to the American Foundation for the Blind, the baby boomer generation, those between 45 and 64 years of age, has yet to experience the full extent of the severity of age-related eye conditions (Special Report on Aging and Vision Loss). Additionally, surveys on Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) found that “cases of early age-related macular degeneration are expected to double by 2050, from 9.1 million to 17.8 million for those aged 50 years or older” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2016).

In your 20s and 30s, chances are that your vision is a perfect 20/20 and hasn’t changed since childhood. Assuming that you don’t have any history of eye disease in the family, blood pressure or diabetes, you can hang on to your perfect eyesight for a couple of decades at least. However, that is as far as it goes.

I, too, had perfect vision all through my first three decades. In fact, I was even a little proud of the fact that my eyesight was good enough to see details in faraway objects that others could not make out. At the most, the long work day would lead to tired eyes, the obligatory dark circles and a little persistent irritation at the end of the day from starting at the computer screen.

Our eye muscles control focus and movement. Like any other muscle, they experience stress, tension and fatigue. The thing to remember is that if you are trying to see something, it usually means that something is wrong with your eyesight. In its normal function, the eye never tries to see anything. If doing something that came to you naturally earlier becomes uncomfortable, it usually means that something is amiss.

This was enough to make me scared since I was soon to become one of the statistics on vision impairment mentioned by Lighthouse International. Visual impairment has been identified as one of the four most significant contributors to lost independence among older Americans. The loss of independence (due to all causes) costs an additional $26 billion in medical and long term costs per year (Alliance for Aging Research, 1999).

Signs of Trouble: I Can See Clearly Now That I Can’t See Clearly

However, there was still hope. With timely intervention, a lot of vision-related disorders can be corrected. According to the WHO website, globally, 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured. In our 20s, at the most, we worry about near or far sightedness (myopia and hyperopia), nearsightedness (myopia) or astigmatism. This are called refractive disorders and can be fixed simply by wearing glasses or contact lenses. The more serious problems can be cured by eye surgery.

The first signs of trouble are usually very hard to spot because they manifest in fluctuations of vision abilities, says ophthalmologists Dr. Alexander Aizman. They can be listed as the following symptoms:

1) Need for more light to see clearly
2) Difficulty in focusing
3) Difficulty in adapting between sudden changes from light to darkness
4) Reduced depth perception
5) Reduced color perception
6) Increased sensitivity to glare

There are two main causes of eye irritation. These are blink frequency and break-up time (BUT). Blink frequency is the number of times you blink in a minute. BUT depends on the interval between blinks and the tear film that covers the eyeball and keeps it moist. The tear film and blinking are directly related to irritation from occupational, climate and fatigue. Preventing eye irritation is easy. Just follow these pointers to reduce the strain:

1) Avoid humid and hot working conditions as they reduce blink frequency and increase dehydration of the tear film.
2) Take short breaks if you are working on a computer.
3) Look down from time to time, this reduces the ocular surface area and water evaporation. 
4) Avoid rubbing your eyes because your hands are usually dirtier than your eyes.

With just a few simple precautions such as these, you will be able to maintain your clarity of vision for a longer period of time.