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Your Vision in Adulthood and Middle Age

There's a film over everything you see.

What it could be: Cataracts.

This clouding of the eye's lens becomes more common as you get older, as protein inside your lens starts to clump together. Cataracts can also create a halo effect around lights at night and make your eyes more sensitive to glare, even during daytime.

What to do about it: Until the cataract causes severe vision problems, you can increase lighting and change your eyeglass prescription to help you see more clearly. Once the haze gets bad, talk to your doctor about surgery to remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial one.

You've got a raging headache that started with distorted vision and flashes of light.

What it could be: Migraine headaches.

Migraines don't just make your head hurt. They also can affect your vision, creating a light show of auras and flashes. You can even briefly lose sight from certain types of migraines.

What to do about it: If this is a new problem for you, call your doctor. If you're diagnosed with migraines, learn what triggers your headaches. That way, you can avoid those triggers, and that can make your headaches happen less often. Medicine can prevent a migraine or stop one in its tracks. If you temporarily lose sight with your migraines, call your eye doctor right away -- it could be a sign of a more serious vision problem.

Spots and objects float through your vision.

What it could be: Floaters.

These are tiny specs that hover inside your eyes. They appear when the fluid inside your eye starts to break down with age. Most of the time, floaters are an annoying, harmless issue.

What to do about it: If you're seeing new floaters all of a sudden, or they start multiplying -- and especially if they occur with flashes of light -- see your eye doctor. Sometimes, the floaters can be a sign of a retinal tear, which can turn into a retinal detachment if you don't get it treated. This is an emergency, because it can lead to permanent vision loss. 

Eye Exams: When Do You Need Them?

See an ophthalmologist or optometrist at least once every 2 years. Visit more often if you have a condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or when you start to have age-related eye problems, typically around age 40. The doctor can monitor your eye health and check for any vision changes.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Robert Butterwick, OD on April 16, 2014

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