Among all the other things you're dealing with in midlife, like new aches and pains or suddenly becoming more forgetful, you may have noticed your eyes changing. Normally, a healthy retina converts light into neural signals that are then interpreted by the brain, but this complex process can be disrupted by a number of age-related changes. If you're dealing with odd visual issues of any kind, it's probably nothing too major, but definitely time for an eye exam.
1. Seeing Spots
One very annoying eye issue people begin to experience later in life is seeing spots, including ones that appear to move. It's as if there are tiny flecks on the surface of your eyes that just float around, driving you crazy all day. Much of the time, this can be attributed to microscopic fibers gathering in eye fluid covering the retina. Although it is a "normal" occurrence in middle age and beyond, it won't feel normal to you and might even lead you to believe you're seeing things. Have an eye exam to alleviate your concerns and rule out causes other than aging, such as a torn retina or medications you're on. The spots you're seeing may be something you'll have to adapt to, although surgical means of eradicating them may be optional if your vision is impaired.
2. Blurred Vision
If words on a page or computer screen are becoming blurry, you may need a new prescription for your glasses (or your first pair of glasses, if you currently don't wear any), but blurriness in your general field of vision could be much more problematic. If the area in the center of your visual field is the only part blurry, you could be experiencing macular degeneration. This disease of the eyes might progress slowly or more rapidly, and it's common as people age or if they are obese, smoke, or have a genetic predisposition. Since there are other possible explanations for blurred vision, it's important that you notify your general practitioner about your visual woes right away.
3. Trouble Reading
Unfortunately for many, the lenses of the eyes can become inflexible and hard in middle age, making it difficult for muscles to adjust and bring words into focus. While this isn't typically a sign of anything more serious than the natural process of aging, you should see an eye doctor, who will likely give you a prescription for reading glasses.
If you're very frugal or otherwise don't want to visit a doctor's office, you might try over-the-counter reading glasses; however, that could be a lengthy trial-and-error process, leaving you with inadequate visual aides, and that could cause headaches and eye irritation.
4. Irritation and Redness
Outside of influences from your lifestyle, such as staying up too late or being under too much stress, red eyes may mean you're allergic to something in your environment (even if you weren't before), you've developed dry, sensitive eyes, or even something as serious as disease. Glaucoma, for example, where the optic nerve is bothered by accumulated fluids, can leave your eyes feeling as if you've been partying like it's 1999, only all of the time. Also, some forms of arthritis may affect your eyes, so don't automatically attribute this optic symptom to late nights, a new mascara, or all the stress from your day job; have your eyes examined to know for sure what's going on.
While age-related eye changes are basically "normal", they can be quite shocking and even worrisome. The best thing to do is find a good eye doctor and give them a call to determine what's causing the issue and what, if anything, can be done for them.