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As we mature, our skin changes, our hair changes, and yes, our vision changes as well. There are common phases in our lives when vision can change. In this article, I will speak to the main phases of vision change and what you can do proactively to prevent or reduce vision loss.

Vision Changes Common in Childhood

The most common reason for vision changes in childhood is either when children start intensive reading/screen-time, reducing outdoor time, or when the effects of stress can start to show. Most causes of childhood blurry vision are due to what are called ‘refractive errors.’ This includes being near-sighted, far-sighted, or having astigmatism.

Many of these problems have been thought to be inherited problems, though several studies have found that children with the least outdoor time tend to develop certain refractive vision problems.

The best ages to ensure sufficient outdoor time is between three and nine. So, be sure to allow for outdoor activity on a daily basis for the kids to promote better vision overall; be sure to have them wearing a hat and or ultraviolet protective sun glasses. Besides more outdoor time, allowing for emotional expression can be helpful for children who may be experiencing stressors, whether at home, school, or online.

It may also be a good idea to encourage regular breaks in ‘near-work’ to reduce extended periods of time focused on reading/near-screen time.

Vision Changes Common in your 40s-50s

This is a common time range when the ‘lens’ of the eye tends to harden, becoming less flexible. As a result, you have more difficulty focusing when you try to read near objects. So this is the age when people resort to purchasing ‘reading glasses’ or they will need more eye glass prescription changes, or resort to laser eye surgery.

Some simple good habits that may help is to ensure good hydration (ie, drink your water, soup, broths, teas). It will also be helpful to keep a wide variety of antioxidant-containing foods in your diet, for instance: all berries, green-leafies like kale and spinach, squashes, whole grains…really eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruits is best.

Vision Changes in your 60s and Beyond

The most common cause of reduced vision in this age group is cataracts. A cataract is a clumping of the protein fibers in the lens of the eyes. The more clumping, then the harder it is to see clearly, which explains the features of having cataracts: cloudy/blurry vision, faded perception of colours, bright objects appear more intense (glare), poor night vision.

Cataracts get more common as we age, approximately half of those 65 and older have some level of cataract formation in their eyes, even higher with increasing age. It’s thought that excess sugars/carbohydrates, insufficient antioxidants and excess chemical and ultraviolet light exposures are important risk factors.

Even omega-3 fats commonly found in fish or fish oil supplements have found to be an important factor for healthy lens maintenance and a lower likelihood of developing cataracts.

Tips for Preventing Cataracts:

  • Eat a healthy diet. This means consuming 5-9 servings of vegetables and fruits daily and whole grains. This ensures a variety of antioxidant, lens-protective nutrients.
  • Take a daily multivitamin. Several studies have found that multivitamins prevent or delay most types of cataracts. Ideally it should contain vitamin E, vitamin C and ‘mixed carotenoids’ which include the following: beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Consume 2-3 servings of fish weekly, or take a daily fish oil supplement containing EPA and DHA omega-3 fats. Plants can also serve as a source of good fats, such as from flaxseeds, chia seed, walnuts and vegetables including Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
  • Ensure eye protection from excess ultraviolet light exposure, through use of wide-brimmed hats or sunglasses that protect from UVA and UVB wavelengths.

Dr. Rahim Habib ND
About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or www.FamilyNaturopath.ca.