Even though it’s common for your vision to change as you age, it can still be scary and frustrating, making it difficult to communicate, read, drive, and complete other everyday tasks. There are several different types of vision loss — blurry vision, night blindness, and peripheral vision loss — that can affect each eye independently. The good news? We’ve brought you seven ways to cope with vision loss so you can continue living your life to the fullest!
Types of Age-Related Vision Loss
As you age, changes and fluctuations in your vision will probably become common. Here are a few age-related vision issues you may experience:
Blurry vision: Even if you never needed glasses in your youth, your up-close vision will start to get a little blurry after you reach the age of 40. You may find that holding objects farther away makes them easier to read. Also known as presbyopia or age-related farsightedness, this blurriness can usually be corrected with reading glasses.
Night blindness: This one might sound a little silly—after all, doesn’t everyone have trouble seeing at night? Well, this is a bit more specific than the general inability to see in the dark. Night blindness is usually associated with having trouble driving at night or having difficulty seeing in low light and can be a sign that your pupil is shrinking and doesn’t let as much light enter the eye as it used to. Trouble driving at night could also signal the development of age-related eye disease, so if you notice changes to your sight in low light conditions, see your eye doctor.
Peripheral vision loss: If you have trouble seeing objects in your periphery (in a wide field of vision) or start to experience tunnel vision, you could be losing your peripheral vision. This could be a symptom of glaucoma (due to optic nerve damage), an eye stroke, injury or other condition, and should be taken seriously. Make an appointment with your eye doctor immediately if you experience peripheral vision loss.
Vision Loss In One Eye
It’s possible that you’ll experience blurry vision in just one eye and not the other. This can be alarming and confusing at first—why wouldn’t vision fluctuations impact both your eyes equally? Try to think of it this way: Many people have different prescription needs for each eye, and this isn’t so different.
If you notice that one eye needs more help than the other, schedule a visit to your eye doctor to get a new prescription and make sure everything else about your eyes looks healthy. One prescription lens can work overtime, and thanks to new lens-shaving technology, onlookers will be none the wiser.
How to Manage Age-Related Vision Loss
Ah yes, the moment you’ve been skimming for. Here are seven ways you can cope with vision loss or help someone in your life who’s experiencing visual impairment.
1. Talk to your eye doctor: First and foremost, if you experience any changes or fluctuations in your vision, talk to your eye doctor. Night blindness could be a sign that you’re developing cataracts, or that you need a new glasses prescription (including new progressive lenses) or a new anti-glare coating to help combat the glare of street lights and oncoming headlights. Loss of peripheral vision is also serious, acting as a possible symptom of glaucoma, eye stroke or retinal detachment. Either way, we recommend you see a professional.
2. Wear reading glasses: For those who are experiencing symptoms of or are diagnosed with presbyopia, reading glasses can help you read materials such as a newspaper, menu, or prescription bottle. Unsure what your reading power is? Use this printable diopter chart.
3. Increase font sizes: Reading on your phone or computer screen doesn’t have to be a nuisance. You can change the text size on any smartphone or computer with just a few clicks in the settings.
4. Use voice-to-text: Typing on your phone may be difficult or time-consuming with vision loss, especially if you have a touch screen. Next time, check out the voice-to-text option instead. When typing in a web browser, there should be a microphone icon you can tap that will allow you to say what you want to search. This also works with texting — there should be a microphone icon you can tap toward the bottom of your keyboard.
5. Use text-to-voice: Not all websites are optimized for viewing them on a mobile device, so even with larger font, it still may be difficult to read the text on a webpage. If that’s the case, make your phone read the page to you! If you have an iPhone, go to Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content and select Speak Screen. Once activated, you can go back to the page you want your phone to read and swipe down from the top using two fingers.
6. Listen to audiobooks: If you love to read but have trouble due to vision loss, audiobooks are a real blessing. Give your eyes a rest as you listen to that new thriller you’ve been waiting for and enjoy the added bonus (in many cases) of listening to the author narrate their own book.
7. Look for improved web accessibility: Not to get too technical here, but it’s clear that many websites weren’t designed for vision loss accessibility. Whether the font size is too small, the contrast makes the content hard to read, or there are just too many words, many sites just aren’t low-vision-friendly. A new law will make websites easier to navigate for people with poor eyesight.
While some vision loss is normal as you age, it can also be a sign of a more serious condition. No matter what your situation, you and your eye doctor can work together to determine the best path forward for you.
The information provided on this blog is for informational and general educational purposes. Before making decisions regarding your eye health, consult with a health professional who can base their recommendations on an assessment that will provide for your individual needs. Read our full disclaimer here.