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As I age, what changes can I expect with my eyes?

Answers by Dr. Melanie Thares, an optometrist at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota, located in St. Cloud

Dr. Melanie Thares is new to Eye Associates of Central Minnesota and is now accepting new patients. Dr. Thares was raised in the St. Cloud area and is a graduate of Tech High School, St. Benedict’s University, and Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University in Philadelphia, Penn.

As we age, some of the common causes of decreased vision include cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Stock photo

Why have I never needed glasses to read until now?

To see close objects, the lens within the eye needs to be able to change its shape slightly in order to increase its power naturally. With age, the lens becomes rigid and can no longer adjust to focus on nearby objects. This is why we need the extra magnification offered in a pair of reading glasses.

What are some of the most common causes of decreased vision with age?

Some of the most common causes of decreased vision with age include cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

Cataracts: As mentioned above, the lens helps to focus light onto the retina, which then transmits an image to the brain. Cataracts cause the lens to become cloudy, which stops light from entering the eye properly and a clear image is unable to be formed. This clouding affects overall vision at all ranges.

Macular Degeneration: This condition causes damage to the layers of the macula which causes central vision loss. There are 2 types of AMD, which are dry and wet. Dry AMD is from thinning of the macula, while Wet AMD is due to new blood vessels forming in the macula causing damage.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma is most commonly due to increased pressure within the eye causing damage to the optic nerve. As the optic nerve becomes more damaged, blind spots develop in the vision typically starting with the peripheral vision.

Diabetic retinopathy: High blood sugar can cause the lens in the eye to swell which results in blurry vision. Typically, as blood sugar returns to normal levels the vision will also return to normal. If the blood sugar remains elevated for prolonged periods, it can result in new blood vessels forming in the retina which then can cause permanent damage.

How often should I have a full eye exam with dilation?

Patients should have a comprehensive eye exam yearly. Yearly eye exams are the most crucial ways to preserve vision, assess ocular health, diagnose any eye disorders and disease, and determine the need for corrective lenses and / or treatment.

Find out more

Dr. Mitchell Gossman is a comprehensive ophthalmologist, along with Dr. Melanie Thares, an optometrist, at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota. The office is located at 628 Roosevelt Road, Suite 101, in St. Cloud. To make an appointment or to learn more, call 320-774-3789 or email

“Ask the Expert” is sponsored content (paid advertising) provided by Eye Associates of Central Minnesota. To learn how your business can promote its products and services like this, contact Sr. Perspective at 320-334-3344.

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