Common vision problems as we age
Many people age without ever experiencing changes in their vision. But, there are some vision changes that are common with the natural aging of the eye, including difficulty seeing objects clearly, even close up; a decline in sensitivity, such as being able to distinguish colors like blue from black; and the need for more light. These changes can often be corrected with a new prescription for glasses or improved lighting. However, it is important for older adults to know the difference between changes that are normal and those that are not.
What are the most common age-related eye diseases and conditions?
The most common eye diseases and conditions that affect older adults include age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye, glaucoma, and low vision. Many of these diseases and conditions do not have noticeable symptoms in their early stages, but they can be detected through a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Treatment is most effective when an eye disease is diagnosed early.
Why is it important to raise awareness about age-related eye diseases?
Many people think that vision loss is a normal part of aging and are unaware of what they can do to protect their sight. Lifestyle factors—such as not smoking; maintaining a healthy weight; engaging in physical activity; controlling diabetes; eating a healthy diet that includes fish high in omega-3s and dark, leafy greens; and protecting eyes from the sun—can all help prevent the onset or delay the progression of eye disease. Comprehensive dilated eye exams should also be a part of a person’s routine health care, especially if he or she is over age 50.
It is also important to raise awareness because, as more people age, certain eye diseases and conditions are rising. NEI estimates the following:
More prevalence data is available from NEI.
Where to find more information about vision and aging
Use photos and graphics from our collection of images to enhance your outreach activities.
Find eye health resources from A to Z.
Vision and aging partners
At the national level, NEHEP works closely with many partners that focus on vision and aging, including:
See the entire list of NEHEP partners and learn about the NEHEP Partnership. NEHEP also collaborates with state and community-based organizations to provide information about vision and aging. Contact us if your organization is interested in working with NEHEP.