Quick! Put your hands on your head. Are your glasses there? Grab your neck — are they dangling there? Now, hold your electric bill four feet from your face and try to read it....
Welcome to the midlife version of Simon Says, a nearly universal condition known as presbyopia, which translates roughly to "elderly eye" (as if crow's feet weren't enough). It usually starts in your early 40s, as the lens of the eye stiffens, losing its ability to focus and making it difficult to see objects...
You have to hold books and newspapers farther away to read them.
What it could be: Presbyopia, or the inability to focus up close.
Presbyopia is one of the most common vision problems in middle age. As you get older, the lens of your eye becomes less flexible. A stiff lens can't focus clearly.
What to do: If reading is harder than it used to be, make an appointment for an eye exam. You might need glasses or contacts.
Reading glasses are available with and without a prescription. You can use them for close-up viewing, like reading a menu or book.
If you need help seeing both near and far, bifocals correct for close-up and distant focus. Progressive lenses or trifocals can also help you see both near and far.
Contact lenses can help correct presbyopia without the need for reading glasses. You have several choices, including bifocal contacts. Multifocal contact lenses allow you to see near, far, and everywhere in between.
Some doctors suggest wearing a contact for near vision in one eye and for distance vision in the other eye.
Laser surgery may also be an option.
See your eye doctor to discuss your options.
Your eyes feel dry and irritated all the time.
What it could be: Dry eye syndrome.
As you get older, your eyes naturally make less tears. Having laser eye surgery or wearing contact lenses can make the problem worse.
What to do: Dry eyes are more than just irritating. Your eyes need to stay wet to keep them healthy. Dry eyes will hurt your vision if you let it go for a long time. If you've got mild dry eyes, artificial tears, which can be bought without a prescription, can bring back the moisture your eyes are missing.
You should see your eye doctor if over-the-counter artificial tears don’t relieve your symptoms. There are other treatment options, and your doctor can check if the dry eyes are a symptom of a bigger problem.
You have diabetes and your eyesight changes from day to day.
What it could be: Rising and falling blood sugar levels.
Uncontrolled diabetes can affect your whole body, including your eyes. Over time, high blood sugar from diabetes damages the delicate blood vessels in your eyes. These damaged vessels can leak and affect your vision.
What to do: See your doctor for a checkup, even if you don't think you have diabetes. Many people have diabetes and don't know it.
Your vision is fine, but you're over 60 and you have a family history of glaucoma.
What it could be: Glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can damage the optic nerve. It often starts without any symptoms. You may not realize that you have it until you're losing vision.
What to do about it: See your eye doctor for an eye exam that includes a glaucoma test before you develop any eye problems. If you have glaucoma, eye drop medication and surgery can keep it from stealing your sight.