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Part III: Can We Cure Nearsightedness?

In part two of “Can We Cure Nearsightedness” we went over ways to control the progression of nearsightedness by spending more time outdoors and getting more exposure to daylight, as well as, reducing the amount a patient accommodates or focuses by practicing a safe Harmon distance. As a reminder, the Harmon distance is the distance from the eyes to the patient’s elbow while the fist is on the chin. The Harmon distance is best utilized in conjunction with the 20/20/20 rule, which relaxes the accommodative or focusing system by looking 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. In addition to spending time outdoors, using the Harmon distance, and practicing the 20/20/20 rule, specialty soft contact lenses, hard contact lenses and diluted Atropine eye drops can also slow the progression of myopia.

As previously discussed, axial length, which is the length of the eye from front to back, is directly correlated with nearsightedness and its progression. The longer the eye the more nearsighted a person will be. Recent research has demonstrated that eye growth or axial length is regulated by the peripheral retina. Current standard prescription methods; soft contact lens, hard contact lens and glasses, primarily produce a clear focus on the central retina (macula) resulting in crisp clear distance vision. It is now believed however, that because the peripheral retina under these circumstances is not as stimulated with a clear focus, this scenario triggers an increase in eye growth or axial length.

To combat this, Cooper Vision developed the first FDA approved soft contact lenses called MiSight, to slow the progression of myopia. This lens is a daily disposable lens that works by bringing the image from behind the peripheral retina directly onto the peripheral retina decreasing the stimulus for the eye to become longer. Studies show this soft lens design can reduce nearsighted progression by 40-55%.

Another contact lens fitting method, orthokeratology, uses hard contact lenses to both reshape the cornea reducing nearsightedness as well as, reduces the shift in nearsightedness secondary to peripheral retinal defocus and increased axial length as described above. Orthokeratology requires sleeping in hard contact lenses at night while being contact lens free during the day. It is important to note that corneal reshaping requires more visits in order to get the right fit and typically, it takes a few days or weeks for vision to remain clear enough to function without correction during the day. Orthokeratology can reduce myopia progression on average by about 50%. It is important to know this method requires long-term contact lens wear for maintenance.

Next week in Part IV of Can We Cure Nearsightedness, we will discuss diluted Atropine eye drops. If you think someone in your family would be a good candidate for myopia control, please call our office today at 405-372-1715. If you missed Part I or Part II of Can we Cure Nearsightedness, we invite you to visit our website at and afterwards message us on Facebook or Instagram at Cockrell Eyecare Center!

Part II: Can We Cure Nearsightedness?

In part one of “Can We Cure Nearsightedness” we discussed myopia, its incidence and the expected increase over the next 30 years. Currently there are a number of clinical approaches to preventing or slowing the progression of nearsightedness. These approaches include spending more time outdoors, reducing the focusing demand on the eyes by holding reading or gaming materials at a specific distance, or by frequently looking in the distance to relax the eyes. To make sure the eyes are relaxed while performing near work, reading or computer glasses are also an option. New to the market this year, MiSight, a specialized soft contact lens not only corrects distance vision, but it also reduces the stimulus causing the progression of myopia. Orthokeratology, which has been around for years, uses a specially designed gas permeable contact lens patients sleep in the lens to reshape the steep curvature of the eye resulting in reduced nearsightedness. There is also a pharmaceutical option. Low-dose Atropine drops can be used on a daily basis to slow myopia progression. These options may be used alone however, for the best outcome are used in combination

Two of the simplest ways to reduce the progression of myopia with the least amount of effort would be to have your children spend more time outdoors and/or control their accommodation. Accommodation is the ability of the eye to change its focus from distance to near objects (and vice versa). This process is achieved by the lens of the eye changing its shape and the eyes converging together as a person looks up close. The closer the reading material is to the face the more accommodation and convergence is required.

With respect to spending more time outdoors studies revealed that for each additional hour per week that children spent outdoors, their risk of being nearsighted dropped by two percent. Nearsighted children in this study spent on average 3.7 fewer hours per week outdoors than those who either had normal vision or were farsighted. The study also investigated whether children who logged more outdoor time also spent less time performing near work, such as playing computer games or studying, but no relationship was found.

Another study showed that the rate of eye growth in children (axial length) varied in relation to exposure to daylight. As described in last week’s article, the longer the eye or axial length the more likely the person is nearsighted. In the study, children’s eyes grew normally during the long days of summer, but grew fast during the short days of winter. The benefit of spending more time outside appears to be related to exposure time to daylight, but the exact reason is unclear. It was clear though, that the children who spent more recess time outdoors were less likely to become nearsighted.

Reducing the amount a child has to focus or accommodate during near work has long been theorized to slow myopia progression. Although the clinical value of this is limited, it does have some effect. This can be accomplished by having the child keep his or her reading distance at what is termed the Harmon distance. The Harmon distance is the distance from the eyes to the patient’s elbow while the fist is on the chin. In addition practicing the 20/20/20 rule further relaxes the accommodative system for brief periods. Children are educated to look 20 feet away, every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds.

Counselling children and teenagers to perform these habits are limited in success. Therefore, prescribing reading or computer glasses for the same effect of reducing accommodation can be beneficial. There are many designs of reading or computer glasses; single vision, bifocals, blended bifocals and progressives. Non-glare and blue light blocking lenses add additional comfort for these lens designs.

These are just some of the clinical approaches to reducing myopia progression. Over the next two weeks, we will discuss MiSight soft contact lens, orthokeratology and low-dose Atropine. If you missed Part I of Can we Cure Nearsightedness we invite you to visit our website to view it at If you have questions about our articles please contact our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715 or message us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!

Part I: Can We Cure Nearsightedness?

Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a visual condition in which patients cannot see clearly in the distance however, can see clearly at near. The level of vision a person has at distance or near varies depending on if the patient has mild, moderate, severe, or extreme myopia. A mildly myopic person for example, may just lack fine details while looking in the distance where as a moderate to severely myopic person may only see color and movement looking at the same distance. Near vision can be very good in a mildly myopic patient allowing them to see an object clearly at 16 inches however, a severely myopic person may have to hold the same object an inch in from their face to see it clearly.

Nearsightedness occurs for a combination of reasons. In general, the power of the eye is too strong so the focal point of the eye is very close to the face. The reason the focusing power is too strong is due to one or more of the following factors. Either the eye is too long, the lens of the eye is too powerful, or the curve of the cornea is too steep. All three result in a very short focal point. The more nearsighted, the shorter the focal point.

For children the risk factors for becoming nearsighted include having one or both parents who are myopic, performing excessive near work such as reading or using digital devices, and spending little time outdoors. Individuals that typically become moderate to severely nearsighted are children that are more nearsighted than the age expected normal and those that show progression of nearsightedness more than 0.75 diopters (D) per year.

Current statistics and predictions regarding nearsightedness are alarming. Researchers at the Brien Holden Vision Institute in Sydney, Australia, analyzed data from 145 studies on nearsightedness from 1995 to 2000. The analysis concluded that 23% of the total global population or 1.4 billion people are nearsighted. The same research group looked at data trends from 2.1 million study participants and predicted that this figure will climb to 4.8 billion by the year 2050. That would account for 49.8% of the world’s population!

Nearsightedness and its progression is a concern because of several factors. Most importantly, the increase in incidence of myopia among young people is exploding. Most of us take for granted that we can wake up see the alarm clock, watch TV, drive and play sports and work without vision correction. Nearsighted people cannot perform these activities without glasses or contact lens. Myopic individuals also have a higher incidence of eye health complications associated with nearsightedness. For example, as a person becomes more nearsighted, the axial length of the eye increases causing the retina to stretch and become thinner. Stretching and thinning of the retina makes the eye more susceptible to retinal holes and tears. These conditions can lead to retinal detachment resulting in total or severe vision loss. Glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness in the US, is also more common in nearsighted patients. Finally, myopic macular degeneration, which is similar to age-related macular degeneration, may also occur and result in central vision loss. Research shows that reducing nearsightedness by 1 diopter can reduce these risks by 40%.

At Cockrell Eyecare, our goal is to play a role in reducing the incidence of nearsightedness and help our patients become educated on how this works. We are calling March Myopia Control Month for our Eye-To-Eye column. Please plan to visit our column every Sunday this month we will discuss the research associated with the current clinical approaches to reducing the incidence of myopia. If you have questions please contact our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715. We also invite you to visit our website at and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!

Nyctalopia (Night Blindness)

Night blindness, also called nyctalopia (nik-tl-oh-pee-uh), is the inability to see well at night or in poor light. It was first described over 2000 years ago. Nyctalopia is not a disease, but rather a symptom of many different conditions, some treatable, some not. Historically, it was known as “moonblink” and believed to be a temporary condition caused by sleeping in the moonlight of the tropics.

Nyctalopia is due to a disorder or disease of cells in the retina called rods. Rods are responsible for our ability to see in dim illumination. By contrast, cones of the retina are responsible for our ability to see detail and color vision in lighted conditions. Rods contain a pigment called rhodopsin that allows us to see at night. The body synthesizes rhodopsin from vitamin A which is why we are told to eat carrots. The eyes continually produce rhodopsin, but in the daytime it is continually bleached out by light. This is why when you walk from the hallway of a movie theater into the movie, sometimes you have to stop to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark. You can think of this as changing from using cones to rods or, the time it takes to regenerate enough rhodopsin to see in the dark. Maximum dark adaptation can take up to 48 hours. Another common example is when you go to sleep at night the room seems very dark however, when you wake up in the middle of the night it seems less dark or even brighter!

Nyctalopia can vary on a scale from very mild to so debilitating that driving at night or going outside in the dark is not possible. Disorders or diseases that cause nyctalopia include: nearsightedness, glaucoma, diabetes, retinitis pigmentosa, vitamin A deficiency, cataracts, various medications, some refractive surgeries and laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy.

Contrast sensitivity describes the ability of the visual system to distinguish bright and dim components of an image. Nearsightedness, cataracts, various medications and some refractive surgery cases cause nyctalopia through the reduction of contrast sensitivity.

Glaucoma, diabetes, and retinitis pigmentosa result in damaged or diseased rods in the retina resulting in nyctalopia. Laser treatment of the retina for diabetic retinopathy results in damage to the peripheral retina where most rods are concentrated and therefore significantly reduces night vision.

Nyctalopia can be treated by improving contrast sensitivity through quality optical products including digitally surfaced and non-glare lenses. Various tinted lenses may also help. Maintaining control of diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and having cataracts removed when necessary, can prevent or delay potential night blindness. Diet is also very important not only to control blood sugar, but to avoid vitamin deficiencies particularly vitamin A.

Finally, get an eye health evaluation to rule out all of the above listed causes of nyctalopia. Preventative eye care can be very helpful in avoiding this condition. Please contact our offices in Stillwater at 405-372-1715 for your eye health evaluation. We also invite you to visit our website at and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!

Retinal Detachment: How would you know?

I got a floater a couple of months ago, which I ignored because I’ve had many. I also then got a flashing in my right eye. I was due into the eye doctor and was going to mention this, having no idea this was important………

About three weeks ago, I started seeing a half moon at the lower part of the eye and within about three to four days my vision was half blocked by this moon……….

On a Sunday, I began to notice an area near the nose-side of my left eye. The area was gray, but I could see through it. By Monday, the area had grown to cover the center of my eye……….

About seven weeks ago, I noticed flashing lights in my peripheral vision while driving at night. I mistakenly thought it was a vehicle moving into my lane! Later that evening what appeared to be wisps of dark smoke or cobwebs began floating across my right eye………. .

One week after running into a glass window, thinking it was an open sliding door, I noticed a small, dark spot in the inside corner of my right eye. The spot grew to the point that it covered my pupil……….

You have just read five patient’s accounts of what preceded their retinal detachments. The retina is an extremely thin tissue that lines the inside of the back of the eye. It is responsible for what we see and is thus referred to as the “seeing tissue of the eye”. Objects we look at are focused onto the retinal tissue by the cornea and lens of the eye. Nerve endings within the retina transmit these images to the brain through the optic nerve. If the retina detaches from the inside of the eye vision can be permanently lost unless the retina is repaired in a timely manner.

A retinal detachment is simply the separation of the retina from within the eye. Retinal detachments occur for a variety of reasons however, a common cause is when the vitreous gel pulls loose or separates from its attachment to the retina. This is called a vitreous detachment. A vitreous detachment is something that occurs as we age and is considered a normal aging change. As the vitreous gel pulls loose it can sometimes cause traction on the retina and result in a retinal tear. Retinal tears will progress to retinal detachments if not promptly diagnosed and treated.

Retinal detachments are more likely to develop in people who are nearsighted or those with a family history of retinal detachment. Trauma to the eye, such as a contusion, direct blow or a penetrating wound, may be the cause but in the great majority of cases retinal detachments result from internal changes in the vitreous chamber associated with aging, diabetes, or less frequently, with inflammation inside the eye.

Symptoms of retinal detachment include flashes of light, wavy or watery vision, a veil or curtain obstructing vision, a shower of floaters that resemble spots, bugs, or spider webs, or a sudden decrease in vision. It is critical that these symptoms be reported immediately because timely treatment can greatly improve the chance of restoring vision in the event of a retinal detachment. Immediately upon experiencing symptoms such as these, you should see your eye doctor. In the event you are simply experiencing a vitreous detachment, you will be given additional symptoms to watch for and asked to return for a follow up visit. The follow up visit is as important or, even more so, to ensure the vitreous changes are completed and you are safe for dismissal.

Retinal detachments require surgery to return the retina to its proper position inside the eye. There are several ways to fix a detached retina. The decision of which type of surgery is based on a number of factors including location of the retinal tear or detachment, pre-existing conditions, health of the patient, and cause of the detachment.

If you ever experience any of the symptoms described above, please contact one of our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715 . If it is after hours or on the weekend, we always have a doctor on call to evaluate you right away. We also invite you to visit our website at and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eyecare Center!

Sports Eye Injuries

According to the National Society to Prevent Blindness, almost 40,000 eye injuries a year are reported to be related to sports and recreational products. This number only reflects those that were reported, and estimates have been as high as 100,000 injuries a year. The sad part about eye injuries is that they often result in permanent damage, and over 90% of the injuries sustained could have been prevented. Many athletes have lost their careers due to eye injuries. The eyes are probably one of the most important parts of the body needed to effectively compete in sports however; most people don’t take measures to protect them. They protect their head with helmets and their bodies with pads, but few wear eyewear to protect their eyes.

There are many factors that will increase your risk to injury. Those with low skill levels, often found in the younger athletes, are at a greater risk. About 44% of the reported injuries were to children under the age of 14. Thus, young children should be protected, as any eye injury could permanently end a child’s future in sports. Also, those with pre-existing eye conditions are at higher risk. For instance, if a child has poor or reduced vision in one eye and good vision in the other, extra precautions should be taken to protect the good eye at all cost. Injury to the good eye could result in the inability to drive or be employable. Also, those with high prescriptions might be at higher risk for permanent damage due to the inherent weaknesses pre-existing in their eyes. Also, those who have had eye surgery may also be at greater risk, since surgery may have weakened the natural state of the eye.

Other factors that increase your risk are the sport you are playing. Participating in a moderate to high risk sport signals the need for eye protection. Low risk sports usually do not involve a ball or bat, and are more commonly individual sports like competitive swimming, and track and field. Moderate risk sports may involve the use of a ball or bat, and are more often team sports. Sports injuries usually are a result of the ball hitting the eye, or a teammate or opponent poking the eye with a body part. Such sports should require protective eyewear. High risk sports are sports that involve direct physical contact, such as boxing, karate or wrestling. Usually no protective eyewear is worn in these sports. Caution and extra consideration should be taken by those who have an existing eye weakness if and when participating in high risk sports.

Eye injuries may seem rare, but they are not. More aggressive play in sports has resulted in more and more eye injuries being reported every year. The most recent data indicates the top four sport activities where eye injuries occur are basketball, baseball, swimming pool sports (horseplay), and racquet and court sports. Virtually 100% of these injuries could be avoided with proper protection. There are numerous sports goggles available to provide protection and still allow excellent vision. These can be worn over your contact lenses or have your individual prescription in the lenses. Polycarbonate lenses are recommended because of their impact resistance. Various styles and colors to match your taste or your team are available. In addition, for outdoor sports, tints or polarization can be applied to enhance your vision and decrease glare.

At Cockrell Eyecare we have a wide variety of protective sports eyewear. What we don’t have we can usually order. Most major insurance vision plans have benefits for sports eyewear if your prescription is included. Please visit or call our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715 to inquire about protective eyewear for all activities. We also invite you to visit our website at and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!

The Eyes in Police Work

The eyes reveal more than just the soul, particularly in police work. Often referred to as “the mirror of the soul”, your eyes can tell if you are lying or if you’ve been drinking or taking drugs. In addition, recent research shows your eyes can tell much about your surroundings including who or what is around you!

Most people are probably familiar with the “eye test” in DUI investigations; we have all seen it demonstrated in television shows, movies and occasionally roadside. This test is called the nystagmus field sobriety test or, more accurately, the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. It is one of the most commonly used field sobriety tests. The short description is the examiner looks for three different indicators of impairment in each eye that is represented by various specific eye movements. If between the two eyes, four or more clues appear, the suspect likely has a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or greater. Research shows that this test allows proper classification in approximately 88 percent of suspects. HGN may also indicate consumption of seizure medications, phencyclidine (PCP), a variety of inhalants, barbiturates, and other depressants.

Evaluating eye movements can also indicate if someone is lying. The University of Utah researchers and educational psychologists developed software that has an effective method of tracking eye movements to detect lies. The technology works differently than polygraph tests. Lie detection with polygraph testing measures a person’s emotional reaction to lying. But eye-tracking measures his or her cognitive reaction while reading and answering true-or-false questions on a computer. The technology relies on the assumption that lying requires more work than telling the truth, so it looks for indications that the liar is working hard, such as dilated pupils or taking longer to read and answer the questions during the test. The test also measures reading and rereading time, as well as errors. Experiments have demonstrated this approach is as reliable as results obtained from polygraph testing.

The most recent research is some of the most intriguing. A UK team, along with the Department of Psychology at the University of New York, found that today’s high-resolution digital images are now so detailed they can enlarge pictures of eyes in photos and retrieve images of out-of-shot bystanders from reflections on their corneas. Researchers found that participants were able to identify the tiny faces of people reflected in the eyes of photographed subjects, findings which could help solve crime one day.

The pupil of the eye is like a black mirror. To enhance the image, you have to zoom in and adjust the contrast. A face image that is recovered from a reflection in the subject’s eye is about 30,000 times smaller than the subject’s face. Despite the low resolution of the blown up images, observers could accurately identify who the bystanders were. In fact, in a recent study, observers were able to identify the tiny faces 71% of the time for unfamiliar faces and 84% of the time for familiar faces.

These findings highlight the remarkable ability for human face recognition, as well as the potential of high-resolution photography. For example, analyzing images reflected in the eyes of victims photographed in child sex abuse or hostage situations, or images of people retrieved from cameras seized as evidence in investigations, could provide vital clues about perpetrators or their associates, or link individuals to particular locations. Hopefully this technology will be studied further and become commonplace in police work!

If you have questions about our topics today please contact us in Stillwater at 405-372-1715 . We also invite you to visit our website at and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eyecare Center!

The Hazards of Looking Good

Magazines, newspapers and TV smother us with images of the ideal look. In fact, the average American woman spends 12K a year to look good! This figure may seem high however, consider what you spend a year on all beauty and grooming products, hair and nail appointments, and of course clothing. Expense of these products alone can cause pain however, if you’re not careful, some of these products can cause costly eye health issues. Careless use of eye makeup and hair dye can cause serious harm to your vision. The U.S. Product Safety Commission estimates that over 250,000 product-related eye injuries are treated annually. Hair dye, commonly applied at home by thousands of women, can cause serious damage and vision loss if used incorrectly. Warnings against the potential harm from these products are stated clearly on all packages, but many people ignore them. To avoid chemical burn to the eyes form hair dye, strictly adhere to the warnings on the package and avoid contact with your eyes. In the event contact is made, flush the eyes with cold water for 20 minutes and then seek immediate care from your Optometrist.

Although cosmetics are typically not as dangerous as hair dyes, they can also lead to eye injuries and irritations. Simple precautions, if followed, can eliminate virtually all of these types of eye injuries. To use makeup safely:

  • Wash your hands before application, so bacteria will not be transferred from your hands to your eyes.
  • Immediately stop using eye products that cause irritation. If irritation persists, see your eye doctor.
  • Use disposable applicators if possible and only use them once.
  • Keep makeup away from excessive cold that can break down the preservatives and allow bacteria to grow.
  • Don’t store cosmetics at temperatures above 85 degrees F. Cosmetics held for long periods in hot cars, for example, are more susceptible to deterioration of the preservative.
  • Avoid products that are labeled natural and preservative-free, since they may breed bacteria.
  • Avoid eye cosmetics that are iridescent, glittery, or shiny, as they may contain ingredients that could scratch or irritate the eye.
  • Do not moisten cosmetics with water or saliva, since this may promote bacterial growth.
  • Never share your makeup with others.
  • Do not switch mascara brushes from one container to another.
  • Avoid kohl eyeliners they may contain dangerous levels of lead.
  • Avoid permanent coloring and dyes for eyelashes, as they can cause irreversible eye damage if not used correctly.
  • Use cosmetics labeled fragrance-free, hypo-allergenic or for sensitive skin, to reduce the chance of allergic reaction.
  • Never use a pin or sharp objects to separate your eyelashes after mascara application.
  • Never put your eye cosmetics on while you’re driving or riding in a car.
  • Remove makeup every night. Never sleep with it on.

If you have questions concerning cosmetics and your eyes please call our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715. We also invite you to visit our website at and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!

Thyroid Eye Disease

Do your eyes ever ache, become red and irritated or maybe overly sensitive? Do you ever have a sensation of pressure in or behind your eyes? A first thought might be dry eyes or a sinus infection however, if you’re a middle aged female it could be Thyroid Eye Disease. Thyroid eye disease is a rare condition affecting about 16 women out of every 100,000 people. In men it is less common, about 3 out of every 100,000. Most of those affected have a problem with an overactive thyroid gland and have an underlying autoimmune condition. Some people are genetically pre-disposed making it more likely that they will get thyroid eye disease however; it is also more likely to develop if you smoke.

The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland sitting near the top of your windpipe at the front of your neck. It has an important role in controlling the speed at which chemical reactions occur throughout tissues of your body. These reactions establish your metabolic rate. The thyroid gland can become overactive or underactive. These changes are most often due to an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are not fully understood but occur when our own immune system turns on, and attacks, our own body tissues.

Autoimmune thyroid disease occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Although not fully understood, when the thyroid gland is attacked, it sometimes is followed by the tissue around the eye being attacked as well. This condition is called Thyroid Eye Disease or Graves Disease.

Signs and symptoms of Thyroid Eye disease include marked swelling of the muscles and fatty tissues surrounding the eyeball within the eye socket or orbit. The swelling is due to inflammation of these tissues. There is limited space inside the orbit so, as the tissues swell, the eyeball can be pushed forward. Many people with thyroid eye disease appear to have bulging eyes as a result. As the eyeball is pushed forward it makes the cornea more exposed and the eyelids cannot completely cover the eye as they close or blink. This causes the cornea to become dry and more susceptible to infection and scarring. In addition, because the eye muscles are swollen the eyeball cannot move as well, double vision may occur.

Treatments include medications to suppress the production of hormone by the thyroid gland, radioactive iodine to eliminate hormone-producing cells, and surgery to remove the thyroid tissue. Active eye inflammation is treated with prednisone for short periods along with artificial tears and ointments for corneal protection. In some cases, orbital decompression surgery is necessary to provide room for the swollen tissues and allow the eye to reseed back into the orbit.

If you have questions about Thyroid Eye disease, please contact us in Stillwater at 405-372-1715. We also invite you to visit our website at and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eyecare Center!

Vision and Eye Health After 40

If you are over 40 years of age, you’ve probably noticed changes in your vision. Difficulty seeing clearly for reading and close work is among the most common problems adults develop between ages 41 to 60. However, this is also the time when other changes in your eyes can start to affect your work and other daily activities or hobbies.

If you have experienced relatively good vision throughout your life and haven’t needed eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct distance vision, then the development of near vision problems after age 40 can be somewhat of a concern and a frustration. Losing the ability to read the newspaper or to see cell phone numbers may seem to have occurred abruptly. Actually, these changes have been occurring gradually since childhood. But up until now, your eyes have had adequate focusing power to allow you to see clearly for reading and close work. Now your eyes no longer have enough focusing power for clear and comfortable near vision tasks. This normal aging change in the eye’s focusing ability, called presbyopia, will continue to progress over time.

Initially, you may have found you needed to hold reading materials farther away to see them clearly. Print in the newspaper or on a restaurant menu may appear blurred, especially under dim lighting. If you already wear prescription glasses or contact lenses to see clearly in the distance, the near vision changes caused by presbyopia can bring about the need to use bifocal or multifocal lenses. If you are nearsighted, you may have discovered that you now need to remove your glasses to see better up close. Fortunately, people with presbyopia now have many options to improve their ability to see well. These include glasses with a lined bifocal or no-line bifocal, monovision or bifocal contact lenses, or laser eye surgery.

Along with the onset of presbyopia, an increase in the incidence of eye health problems occur during these years. Whether or not there is a need for eyeglasses, adults should be examined for signs of developing eye health and vision problems. A comprehensive eye examination is recommended every year. Don’t rely on substitutes like a health fair vision screening or a driver’s license vision test to determine if you have an eye health or vision problem.

Adults over 40 may be particularly at risk for the development of eye health and vision problems if any of the following exist:

  • Chronic, systemic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • A family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration.
  • A visually demanding job or work in an eye-hazardous occupation.
  • Health conditions like high cholesterol, thyroid conditions, anxiety or depression, and arthritis for which medications must be taken.

Early warning signs of eye health problems include fluctuating vision, increased glare or light sensitivity, changes in color perception, seeing flashes and floaters, loss of side vision, and distorted vision.

If you have questions about your vision or eye health or, are interested in having your eyes examined, please contact our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715. We also invite you to visit our website at and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!