You'd think that if your vision were deteriorating, you'd know about it, right? After all, you wouldn't be able to see clearly. Vision loss, however, doesn't occur between one blink of the eye and the next. In fact, it often occurs so gradually that you aren't aware of it until it's pointed out to you. Worse, in many cases, you can experience uncomfortable or even downright painful symptoms as your vision worsens, all without any idea of what's causing it. You think you can see just fine. With the advent of high-definition television, you might even be able to function normally with vision loss for quite some time, never even noticing that the world around you has become blurred. Unfortunately, that doesn't change the fact that your vision is going downhill.
The good news is, you don't have to live with those symptoms! By learning to identify the potential signs of vision loss, you can learn to know when it's time for a visit to your optometrist, who can effectively diagnose and treat those symptoms of vision loss. Whether you've worn glasses for years or are simply experiencing increasing symptoms with age, developing your familiarity with these symptoms will help keep your vision clear and prevent you from running into other vision-related problems.
Experience Headaches Or Symptoms Of Eye Strain More Frequently Than Usual
As your vision deteriorates, your eyes will have to work harder in order to compensate. As a result, you'll find that you're more prone to headaches or tired, aching eyes. If you find yourself desperate to retreat to a dark room, or if your symptoms are worse when you've had to focus on something far away--say, a presentation screen that's out of your usual range of vision or a presenter who is at the front of the room while you're at the back--it's definitely time to get your eyes checked.
A quick trip to the optometrist may also be in order if regularly occurring headache symptoms have suddenly worsened dramatically or if you have a sudden onset of frequent headaches. Occasional headaches are probably no reason to worry, especially not if they follow a regular pattern or have other easily-identifiable triggers. New problems with headaches, however, could be a sign of eye trouble.
You Move Closer To Your Computer And Television Screens
This may also manifest as a need to move anything that you're reading closer to your face. Your handwriting may become messier, since you can't see the path that your letters need to take as clearly. If you realize that you've suddenly moved your favorite chair closer to the television or that you're beginning to wish that all of your favorite books came in large print editions, chances are, there's something not quite right with your vision. You should also pay close attention to how close your nose gets to your desk when you're reading or working on paperwork: the closer you get, the better the odds that there is something amiss with your vision.
More Lights Left On Because Low Light Feels Like No Light
Are you angling your reading light to put more light on your side of the bed? Turning on your over-the-counter lights in the kitchen even when you're cooking during the day? Chance are, it's a sign that your vision isn't doing so well. When you're in need of an eye exam, you'll find yourself trying to compensate for blurred vision by adding extra illumination. Dimness decreases your ability to see what's happening in front of you, so you'll turn up the light in an attempt to make it better. Unfortunately, this won't help as much as you like. Pay careful attention to the amount of light you need in order to accomplish normal tasks. If it increases suddenly, it's time to have your eyes checked.
You Are More Clumsy Than Usual
You might not be the most graceful individual anyway. Perhaps you frequently find yourself tripping over your own feet or failing to notice that there's something in your path, especially if it's something small. You may also discover that you have trouble eating neatly, dropping more food on your clothing, or spilling more often. A few unexplained bruises or a brief episode of extra clumsiness probably aren't too bad. If it's getting increasingly frequent, however, your failing vision might be to blame! Won't it be nice to have an excuse that you can share with your friends? "Of course I'm not really that clumsy. I just needed to have my glasses prescription updated, that's all."
In senior adults, this clumsiness may manifest a little differently. Elderly individuals who are suddenly having more trouble seeing may stick closer to the walls, even running their hands along them as they walk to help make sure they stay on course. They may also shuffle their feet to help decrease the possibility that they'll miss something in the path.
You Don't Notice Details Anymore
Think about those clumsy moments mentioned above. When you dump food on yourself while eating, do you notice it, or do you find yourself walking around all day with a stain on your shirt that you haven't seen? Do you often knock things over because you didn't even notice they were there? What about looking for something in your home? Are your spouse and/or children accusing you of missing things that are right in front of your face? Can you stand in front of a shelf and simply be unable to find something that's directly in front of you? Do you become unduly upset when people move things because once they aren't where you left them, you know you'll never be able to find them again?
If you're struggling to notice the small details of life, from missing a friend's new jewelry to discovering that you've put your makeup on incorrectly at the end of the day, it's likely that your vision loss is to blame. If you want to go back to being able to clearly see everything around you, it's time to seek out an eye exam!
You Are Having Issues Driving
One of the first signs of vision loss may be trouble reading street signs when you're searching for a particular road or trying to follow directions. Unfortunately, dangerous driving behavior due to vision loss likely won't stop there. You'll find yourself drifting when you're on the road. You won't be able to stay within your lane as easily. Worse, you'll struggle to adhere to traffic laws as you blow past speed limit signs or fail to notice that the light has changed until you're already beneath it. Pay attention to others' reactions to your driving behavior. If your kids are starting to look a little nervous when the time comes for them to get in the car, your vision loss may be causing more problems than you think.
Your Vision Has Declined Noticeably Quick
Vision loss isn't always readily apparent in the middle of the day first. Your first symptom of vision loss may appear in other circumstances: cloudy vision that clears up as the day goes on, a loss of night vision, or a "blind spot" in one or both eyes. Pay attention to these vague changes in vision. While some of them may be minor or may turn out to be natural signs of aging, others can be a sign of a more serious problem. Any time you suspect that you may have vision loss or changes in vision, it's time to visit your doctor as soon as possible.
Your eyes are a critical part of your health. You probably have trouble imagining the world without your vision, so make sure that you're taking any changes to it seriously. From floaters in front of your eyes to difficulty making out objects in the dark, you should take any vision concerns to an optometrist as soon as possible.