Vision at 40

From 40 onwards, it is normal to experience changes in your vision. You are also at much higher risk of certain eye conditions. While many of these changes or conditions can be easily treated, often you won’t know if you have a serious eye condition, and if left untreated can lead to permanent vision loss.

Symptoms to look out for at 40

  • Blurred text and the need to read the newspaper either at arm’s length or very close to your eyes to see clearer
  • Poor concentration, eye strain, headaches or tiredness from reading or other close work
  • Any unusual changes that may be affecting your eye sight or ability to go about your normal life. Warning signs include spots in your vision, sudden eye pain or redness, distorted and double vision and regularly bumping into or spilling things.

Five major eye conditions among over 40s

Presbyopia – a very normal part of ageing, causing gradual loss of our ability to change the shape of the lens of our eye, to focus at normal reading distance. While presbyopia cannot be prevented, it can be easily treated by using correctly prescribed reading glasses or contact lenses.

Glaucoma – progressive damage to the optic nerve cells, often due to pressure inside the eye, causing loss of peripheral vision. You may not know if you have glaucoma until irreversible damage has been done, so it must be treated early. It can also be hereditary.

ARMD (age-related macular degeneration) – central retina deteriorates, distorting central vision. Your chance of developing AMD is much higher if it runs in your family. While it cannot be cured completely, there is some treatment available which must be started early.

Cataract – clouding of the lens inside the eye, causing gradual loss of vision. Cataracts are very common and can be easily removed and replaced with a plastic lens via surgery.

Diabetic retinopathy – diabetes can start to affect the blood vessels at the back of your eye which can cause serious vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy should be detected and treated early and can require laser treatment.

Advice to over 40s

Know your eyes

Be aware of the health of your eyes and how your vision is affecting your everyday life by learning the warning signs and looking for changes.

Have your eyes tested regularly by an optometrist

You may not know when you have a serious eye condition and after 40 your prescription is likely to change significantly. The earlier eye conditions are detected, the greater the chance of successful treatment and retaining your vision.

If you think you may have a problem with your eyes or vision, consult an optometrist immediately.

Your optometrist can provide a comprehensive eye examination to detect, diagnose and treat eye health problems and to prescribe glasses or contact lenses where required. Eye examinations with an optometrist attract a Medicare rebate and no referral is required.