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...
To catch eye conditions early and help prevent vision loss, you should get a baseline eye exam when you are 40. If you are at high risk for an eye problem, yearly visits are recommended. If there are no issues, you should then see your doctor every 2 to 4 years until you are 54. Afterwards, visits should be more frequent – every 1 to three 3 years. By the time you reach 65, consider visits every 1 to 2 years.
Here's what you should know about these threats to your eyesight.
Your Eyes and Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) damages, then destroys, central vision, your "straight-ahead," finely detailed vision. This eye disease takes two forms, dry and wet. About 90% of AMD cases are dry. The remaining 10% are wet, a more advanced form. Wet AMD is more damaging, causing about 90% of serious vision loss.
AMD is painless. It may worsen slowly or rapidly. Dry AMD may affect central vision within a few years. Wet AMD can cause sudden and dramatic changes in vision. In either case, early detection and treatment are key to slowing vision loss. See your eye doctor right away if you notice:
Straight lines appearing wavy, a symptom of wet AMD
Blurred central vision, the most common dry AMD symptom
Trouble seeing things in the distance
Difficulty seeing details, like faces or words on a page
Dark or "blank" spots blocking your central vision