They say “eyes are the window to one’s soul,” and those windows need to be maintained- especially if you want to be shooting accurately for many years to come. Reader/Guest Blogger Caitlin Abele of Steve’s Angels wrote in to give us some pointers on what to expect from your vision as we age as well as techniques to keep our peepers in good condition for as long as possible.

Healthy Vision for a Lifetime of Shooting

For many new female shooters, shooting quickly becomes a favorite hobby, and oftentimes a lifelong sport. In order to be successful and tear up the target, however, shooters rely on crystal clear vision. Here are some things to look out for when it comes to your vision, and ways to ensure that you’ll be seeing clearly and shooting well whether you’re in your 20s, 40s, or beyond.

Healthy vision at any age:

The best way to maintain healthy vision at any age is to get a regular eye exam. Other ways to maintain healthy vision are to eat a balanced diet, refrain from smoking, get lots of exercise, and wear sunglasses.

Anti-Impact Glasses from Packing in Pink

Eye protection is absolutely essential when shooting. Every shooter has different vision needs, and there’s no shortage of choices  in lenses and styles on the market today. Shooting glasses, shooting goggles and safety glasses all have different looks and benefits. Each shooter’s selection depends on their vision needs, age, safety requirements, shooting environment and even the type of gun they’re using.

What to watch out for in your 20s and 30s:

Nearsightedness

The eye’s cornea directs light onto the lens, and the lens focuses the light onto the retina. In an eye with perfect distance vision, the relaxed lens will focus a distant object on the retina. In a nearsighted eye, however, the relaxed lens will focus distant objects somewhere short of the retina. A nearsighted person can usually focus on close objects, but distant objects are fuzzy. Eyeglasses and contact lenses are the most common solutions for nearsightedness.

Farsightedness

In a farsighted eye, the relaxed lens will focus distant objects somewhere beyond the back of the eye. Distant objects will appear fuzzy, and closer objects will be even fuzzier. Eyeglasses and contact lenses are the most common solutions for nearsightedness.

 

Astigmatism

Astigmatism results when the cornea is not perfectly spherical in shape. The result is a “lopsided,” somewhat cylindrical sphere that does not focus all of the light rays entering the eye onto a single point on the retina. This means that objects at all distances will appear somewhat blurred.  Astigmatism can often occur in conjunction with nearsightedness or farsightedness, but people with perfect distance vision can also have astigmatism. Eyeglasses and contact lenses can correct for astigmatism by focusing light rays on a single plane.

Computer vision syndrome (CVS)

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) may occur from using a computer for long periods of time. To minimize the effects of CVS, make sure the lighting in the room is adequate to avoid glare from the computer screen, and position the screen so that your head is in a comfortable position.

What to watch out for in your 40s and 50s:

As we age, our eyes progressively lose the ability to focus over the full range of vision from far to near. This happens to everyone, regardless of regular distance vision correction, and takes place gradually over time. The cause is presbyopia, a condition in which the eye’s crystalline lens becomes increasingly inflexible.

The eye’s cornea directs light onto the lens, and the lens focuses the light onto the retina. In an eye with perfect distance vision, the relaxed lens will focus a distant object on the retina. When we are young, the lens can change shape (increase curvature) to focus on objects at closer distances. The closer the object, the greater the curvature required. The ability to do this is known as “accommodation.” As we age and the eye’s lens becomes increasingly inflexible, its accommodation declines. Most people first notice a difficulty in adjusting between distances around the age of 45, and by the time they are 65, they will have lost virtually all of their accommodation.

Presbyopia

To overcome presbyopia, many shooters rely on multifocal lenses such as bifocals, trifocals or progressive lenses. Many other shooters switch between multiple pairs of glasses throughout the day. Fortunately in today’s age of modern medicine, there are various ways to overcome presbyopia, such as special adjustable glasses, night vision, scopes and other optical sighting devices.

Glaucoma

While there are several types of glaucoma, the disorder usually occurs from a buildup of internal eye pressure (intraocular pressure or IOP). This increased pressure damages the eye’s optic nerve, disrupting the transmission of visual information to the brain. This disrupt in transmission of visual information can cause a decreased ability to see at the edges of your vision (peripheral vision). Progressive glaucoma can eventually lead to blindness. Glaucoma surgery, lasers, medication and eye drops are the most common solutions for glaucoma, depending on the severity of the disorder.

Cataracts

The eye’s cornea directs light onto the lens, and the lens focuses the light onto the retina. The lens also adjusts the eye’s focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. Cataracts occur when the protein in the eye’s lens clumps together to cloud a small area. Cataracts can grow larger over time and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see. Cataract surgery, bifocals, magnification and other visual aids are the most common solutions for glaucoma, depending on their severity.

Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD or ARMD, is the degeneration of the macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for the sharp, central vision needed to read or drive. Macular degeneration can be either dry (non-neovascular) or wet (neovascular). Neovascular macular degeneration refers to the growth of new blood vessels where they are not supposed to be. The dry form is more common than the wet form, and the wet form usually leads to more serious vision loss. While there is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, there are treatments to delay its progression. By looking out for these vision conditions and protecting your eyes, you’ll be seeing clearly and shooting well at any age.

About the Author

Caitlin is a shooter who works with Superfocus, the makers of an adjustable focus lens for presbyopia that is popular amongst shooters. She is also a member of Steve’s Angels, the moderators of the Superfocus Staying on Target community for shooters overcoming age related vision changes. The Staying on Target community and OnTarget blog provides information and commentary on shooting, aging and vision and is located online at http://shoot.superfocus.com/.

@SuperfocusShoot