Vision doesn’t usually just disappear overnight. Instead, it gradually declines over time. Because of this, we aren’t always aware that our eyesight is declining until an irritant plagues our vision and sends us to the doctor for an overdue exam.
“That’s why a baseline exam at age 40 is important,” says ophthalmologist Andrew Iwach, a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “You may not have major symptoms, yet have a major problem.”
Below are 4 warning signs of vision loss that you don’t want to ignore:
- One minute you see clearly, the next everything is blurry: One possible cause of this fluctuating clarity is diabetic retinopathy. Your vision problems may be due to uncontrolled type 2 diabetes or uncontrolled high blood pressure. These chronic conditions can damage the blood vessels of the retina and result in vision loss. If you are noticing changes in the clarity of your vision, and have trouble reading, sewing or doing other near-sight tasks, ask your doctor to rule out diabetes or high blood pressure.
- You were recently in a car accident: Although there are a number of variables that can cause a traffic accident, one common cause is loss of peripheral vision, which can be a symptom of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve and gradually worsens over time. If you find yourself repeatedly bumping into people or things, you may be losing your peripheral vision. Glaucoma can easily be diagnosed during routine eye exams.
- An irritating dark patch appears at the center of your vision: If you notice a gradual loss of your central vision, it could be caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD). If you are seeing wavy lines instead of straight lines, or are having trouble reading street signs, you should schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.
- You notice a brownish tint to your vision. : This type of vision change may be due to cataracts. Cataracts are so common among seniors that by age 80 over half will either have cataracts or have undergone cataract surgery. Although not a medical emergency, cataracts that are left untreated can result in blindness.