Your eyes are just like any other part of your body. They grow and change as you grow and change, and they are more prone to certain conditions depending on your stage of life. Today, we’re going to take you on a journey through your eye’s experience – from birth into your golden years.
To keep your eyes in the best shape and optimize vision, you should schedule an eye exam every year.
Your Eyes From Birth To The Senior Stage Of Life
Most of this article is organized in decades and phases. However, your first year of life is like ten years in one when it comes to how your eyes change and develop. So, let’s start there.
The first year
When you’re born, vision is not your strong suit. Their eyes cannot focus yet, and they see the entire world as a blur. Instead, babies rely on hearing, scent, and physical touch to interpret the world around them. During the first month, the brain, optic nerve, and eye muscles work together to coordinate focus and make two images become one.
For the first few months, babies are pretty nearsighted but can’t see details beyond six to 10 feet away. They also prefer black-and-white and primary colors, as their rods and cones (which help you decipher a fuller color spectrum) are also kicking into gear. This is not the time to worry about lazy eyes or the fact that your baby’s eyeballs may look a little wonky at times.
Read Eye Coordination: Get Your Eyes On the Same Team to learn more about the process.
The first decade
The toddler years are when your child’s vision begins to focus. Schedule an appointment with your pediatrician if you notice a lazy eye or lack of focus by around year two or three. Your child might have a “lazy eye,” which means one eye is weaker than the other. While lazy eyes are easily corrected at this stage of the game, they become impossible to fix later on, so there’s no time to waste. The same is true for crossed eyes, which are common in the baby stage but should fade when your child is three or more years old.
Children are amazingly adaptive, and this is why routine pediatric eye exams are so important. You may think your child sees just fine when, in fact, s/he’s done a remarkable job at adapting to vision loss. The sooner you address any potential vision issues, the better.
Once your child is in school, any uncaught vision loss may show up in various forms, such as:
- Difficulty reading
- Behavioral issues
- Hand/eye coordination issues
- Frequent eye rubbing or tearing
- Frequent headaches
If you haven’t visited an optometrist before your child enters school, schedule an appointment before first or second grade, in case glasses will help them see the board, read better, or focus on screen-distance work. We’ll also be able to note if your child experiences colorblindness, which might not show up for a while otherwise due to those aforementioned adaptive abilities.
From 10 to 20
You’re not out of the woods if you don’t need glasses during the K-12 years. In fact, for many of our patients, college is the time when students realize they can’t see. Unfortunately, this is often the case once they attend their first lecture hall, where students often sit a long distance away from any boards or screens at the front of the classroom.
Those with astigmatism may notice it at this juncture. Vision loss related to astigmatism is most likely to show up when switching focus between near- and far distances (like taking notes and then looking back up to the front of a classroom) or in the evening, when lights or digital numbers have a blurred halo around them.
From 20 to 50
From your 20s into your 50s, lifestyle choices become linked with vision issues. Things like being overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, or lack of sleep make you more prone to vision loss or infections.
One of the biggest things to watch out for is a lifestyle that leads to diabetes. Adults with diabetes are more prone to developing cataracts and other eye issues that seriously compromise vision and eye health. Visit our post, Diabetes and the Health of Your Eyes, to learn more about that topic.
Even if you’ve never needed glasses before, you’re not out of that ballpark yet. Annual eye exams catch any slips into near or farsightedness, so you don’t have to experience eye strain that leads to headaches and general fatigue.
During this period, your optometrist or ophthalmologist may also suggest LASIK surgery. By now, your vision is more solidly anchored, where it will remain until you experience age-related vision loss. It’s a good time to correct your vision with LASIK surgery, freeing you up from the constant need for eyeglasses or contacts.
From 50 and beyond stage of life
By the time you’re in your 50s, odds are you need readers. Don’t despair. While it may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Called presbyopia, farsightedness is a natural age-related change occurring as the result of a hardening lens. Diet and exercise, as well as genetics, can reduce this effect – but some level of farsightedness is inevitable no matter what you do.
Read, Presbyopia: Regain Your Reading Vision! to learn more about how to choose the best pair of high-quality reading glasses for you.
Again, we want to emphasize the importance of a healthy diet, exercise, and sleep routine. Your lifestyle makes a big difference when it comes to reducing your risk of age-related vision loss, particularly when it comes to:
- Issues with night driving (night blindness)
- Seeing more floaters or spots in your vision
- Ocular hypertension (often a precursor for glaucoma)
- Retinitis pigmentosa
Depending on your family and personal medical/vision history, your optometrist may recommend scheduling complete eye exams at least twice a year to be proactive about stopping vision loss in its tracks.
Are you overdue for an eye appointment? Schedule an exam at Atlantic Eye Institute. We love taking care of patients’ eyes at every stage of life.