You notice it suddenly – a decline in vision. The symptoms of declining vision can vary. For some people, it becomes difficult to read traffic signs quickly and from a distance. For others, they notice that they have to hold their book or newspaper further away in order to be able to read the text. Both small children and adults might notice they've started needing to blink their eyes to bring objects back into focus. When symptoms such as these arise, you might wonder: Do I need to wear glasses? But often people delay getting expert advice from an optician.
When visual acuity begins to decline, this is often due to problems with the eye's process of accommodation. Vision accommodation refers to the focusing ability of the eye. A decline in vision can also be due to other factors, circulatory or other diseases, or temporary factors. But regardless of the cause, the first step is a visit to the optometrist for a quick eye test - which in many cases will be performed free of charge. A vision test takes only a few minutes and will give you some quick answers. If you are suffering from a loss of visual acuity that hasn't been corrected with glasses, your eyes will be forced to make constant accommodations. That causes eye fatigue, and can be a safety issue as well.
However, in the majority of cases, the decline in visual acuity is due to changes in the eye such as myopia: a decline in visual acuity that arises when the shape of the eyeball is too long. The incoming light no longer fully reaches the retina, but stops shortly in front of it. Myopia can arise at any age. The typical symptoms include:
- distant objects (street signs, license plates) appear blurred
- squinting the eye when looking at distant objects
Even an apparently minor myopia should be corrected with glasses as soon as possible. Any loss of visual acuity increases the risk of traffic accidents substantially. Studies have shown that myopia tends to cause drivers to engage in risky passing maneuvers because they fail to see oncoming cars until it is too late. And studies have also demonstrated that people tend to greatly overestimate their true visual acuity. For this reason, it's especially important to obtain an eye test from your optometrist, which will tell you whether a prescription for glasses can restore your vision – and also benefit your quality of life.
When children suffer from myopia, the problem requires adult intervention. Young children generally don't realise they should be able to see better than they do. And that's too bad: because the younger the patient, the easier it is to correct myopia. The most important warning signs include:
- crossed eyes or constant tilting of the head
- no reaction or an excessive reaction to light
- excessive blinking or frequent widening of the eyes
- frequent rubbing of the eyes
- failure to focus properly or looking past an object
- frequent tripping and stumbling
- lack of desire to read
- poor grades at school
- reluctance to play with other children
In order to quickly diagnose and detect myopia in children, experts have developed a "playful" test of visual acuity. This makes it possible to test whether even newborn infants are reacting properly to light. Does the infant turn his or her head when a lamp is switched on nearby? If yes, that's a sign all is well. At seven months of age, an infant should be able to follow you with his or her eyes. What happens when you hide behind a pillow, a book or your sofa and call to your child? If your child reacts, that's a sign your child can see well. With eight months of age, a child should be able to reach for and grasp nearby objects. And around the first birthday, a child should be able to reach for a ball rolling in his or her direction. If these milestones aren't met, a quick trip to the pediatrician is in order.
It generally begins somewhere around your 45th birthday. Unlike simple far-sightedness, which is similar in symptoms to presbyopia, but is caused by a smaller than usual eye angle, in age-related presbyopia the lens of the eye grows more rigid. The symptoms include: reading and writing suddenly takes greater effort, and it takes longer for the eye to switch from near vision to distant vision.
- newspapers have to be held further away in order to read
- a frequent burning sensation in the eye
- headaches and eye pain
- increased fatigue
Here as well: A quick trip to the optometrist will ensure that your symptoms don't increase, and that your visual comfort and acuity is restored.
For presbyopia, reading glasses or progressive lenses will help. Reading glasses are only effective for near vision and must be removed to see distant objects. In progressive lenses, the transition between distance vision and near vision is incorporated directly and invisibly into the lens. The patient no longer needs to switch constantly between reading glasses and regular ones. A visit to the optometrist will tell you whether progressive lenses are the best solution. It sometimes takes a bit of time to get used to progressive lenses, but the earlier they're used, the easier the transition will be. But for patients who don't mind putting on a pair of glasses for reading and other close-up tasks, or who don't need regular glasses for distance vision, a pair of reading glasses might do the trick.
Simple reading glasses are available at ordinary supermarkets and many gas stations. They're inexpensive, which makes them an appealing solution at first sight. But take care: pre-manufactured reading glasses have some real disadvantages. With ready-made reading glasses, you won't have the benefit of a qualified eye exam, and a customised fit. And keep in mind: your eye is as individual as your finger print. That's why spectacle lenses have to be precisely centered to your pupil distance, and the frame needs to be adjusted to the shape of your head. That's a job for a trained optometrist.
And the optician has the benefit of modern technology and high-quality materials. Like the i.Profiler system and i.Scription spectacle lenses. i.Profiler measures each eye individually, and checks visual acuity when your pupils are dilated to assess your night vision.
This data is then used to create your i.Scription lenses. The result is noticeably improved visual acuity at night, and increased traffic safety in the dark. Colours appear much brighter, and contrast and acuity is enhanced. Your eyes will thank you.