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Why is my eyesight deteriorating so quickly?

It’s frustrating when you realize your eyesight isn’t what it used to be. The world starts to look blurry, reading becomes a struggle, and you find yourself squinting to see things clearly. As we get older, some degree of eyesight deterioration is normal. However, noticeable vision changes can happen at any age and may indicate an underlying eye condition. There are various reasons why some people experience rapid vision loss while others maintain good eyesight well into old age. Understanding the common causes of eyesight deterioration can help you take proactive steps to preserve your vision.

What causes eyesight to deteriorate?

There are several factors that can contribute to a decline in visual acuity over time including:


Aging itself brings natural changes to the eyes that affect vision.

As we get older:

– The lenses in the eyes lose flexibility and thicken, making it harder to focus up close. This causes presbyopia, which leads to blurry near vision after age 40. Reading glasses become necessary to compensate.

– The pupils get smaller, reducing the amount of light entering the eyes. This makes vision more difficult in low light.

– The retina and cornea thin out, potentially resulting in clouding, dryness, or changes in eye curvature. This can distort images entering the eye leading to gradual blurriness.

– The eye muscles weaken. Focusing and coordination of the eyes deteriorates over time potentially causing double vision.

While aging impacts everyone’s eyes, the extent can vary based on genetics, lifestyle, and other factors.

Uncorrected refractive errors

Refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia mean the eyes cannot properly focus light. Blurry vision results when these conditions go uncorrected. Wearing the right prescription glasses or contacts usually helps compensate. However, untreated refractive errors tend to worsen over time as the eyes strain to focus. This accelerates the decline in visual sharpness.

High blood sugar

Having persistently high blood sugar can damage the tiny blood vessels and nerves in the eyes. This is common in diabetes. Uncontrolled blood sugar causes diabetic retinopathy which impairs vision. It also increases the risk of other eye complications like cataracts and glaucoma. Keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy range helps prevent retinal damage and vision loss.

Eye diseases

Many eye diseases become more common with age and lead to declining eyesight. These include:

– Cataracts – Clouding of the eye’s lens causes blurry vision. Treated by cataract surgery.

– Glaucoma – Damage to the optic nerve from fluid pressure in the eye. Causes vision loss and blindness. Managed with medications and surgery.

– Macular degeneration – The retina’s macula wears down leading to central vision loss. No cure but treatment can slow progression.

– Diabetic retinopathy – Blood vessels in the retina deteriorate, impairing vision in diabetes. Laser surgery can help.

Catching and managing eye diseases early provides the best chance of preserving eyesight.

UV exposure

Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun causes cumulative damage to the eyes. It increases the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and growths on the eye including cancer. Wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and a hat helps cut UV exposure and protect vision.

Eye injury

Injuries to the eye from objects, particles, chemicals, or infection can scar the cornea and permanently impair vision. Protective eyewear reduces the risk of eye injuries when working in hazardous environments or playing sports. Prompt treatment of eye infections also helps prevent scarring.

Straining the eyes

Overusing the eyes strains the ciliary muscles that control focusing. Sustained computer use, close work, driving long distances, and reading in poor light tends to overwork the eyes. Taking frequent visual breaks plus proper lighting, computer positioning, and ergonomics helps maximize visual comfort and acuity.

Nutritional deficiencies

Not getting enough essential vitamins and minerals can contribute to poorer eye health. Deficiencies in vitamin A, C, E, zinc, or omega-3 fats have been linked with higher risks of macular degeneration, dry eyes, cataracts, and deteriorating night vision. Eating a nutrient-rich diet helps optimize eye health.


Various prescription and over-the-counter medications are associated with visual disturbances or eye toxicity as side effects. Drugs for managing anxiety, depression, allergies, high blood pressure, acne, and other chronic conditions can potentially affect eyesight. Working with your doctor to adjust medications that may impair vision can help.


Smoking increases the risk of developing cataracts, optic nerve damage, macular degeneration and uveitis or eye inflammation. Chemicals in cigarette smoke deprive the eyes of oxygen plus generate free radicals that accelerate aging of the eyes. Quitting smoking helps protect vision.

When to see an eye doctor about vision changes

See an optometrist or ophthalmologist right away if you experience any of the following vision changes:

– Sudden loss of vision or black spots in one or both eyes

– Double or distorted vision

– Flashing lights or floaters

– Halos around lights

– Persistent pain or redness in or around the eyes

– Extreme light sensitivity or night blindness

– Recurring headaches or nausea when using the eyes

– Worsening vision that is not corrected with a change in prescription glasses or contacts

– Need for a major change in contact lens or glasses prescription from year to year

Rapid or otherwise bothersome vision changes could signal a serious eye condition requiring prompt medical care. Catching and treating eye problems early provides the best chance of preserving sight.

What eye tests detect vision problems?

The following eye exams performed by an eye doctor can detect issues affecting visual sharpness:

Eye chart test

– Measures visual acuity by ability to read rows of letters from a distance. Checks prescription accuracy.

Refraction test

– Determines any refractive errors like nearsightedness affecting vision clarity. Done with a phoropter machine.

Pupil dilation

– Drops enlarge pupils so eye doctor can examine inner eye structures with a slit lamp microscope for signs of conditions like cataracts.

Retinal imaging

– Photographs the back of the eye to screen for retinal damage, optic nerve changes, macular degeneration.


– Measures eye pressure levels to check for glaucoma risk.

Visual field testing

– Maps peripheral vision and ability to detect objects from side to side. Checks for field loss from eye diseases.

Eye Test What it Detects
Eye chart test Visual acuity issues
Refraction test Refractive errors
Pupil dilation Inner eye issues like cataracts
Retinal imaging Retinal damage or macular degeneration
Tonometry Glaucoma risk
Visual field testing Peripheral vision loss

Getting a comprehensive eye exam once every 1-2 years helps detect subtle vision changes in the early stages. Those at higher risk for eye disease may need annual eye exams.

Preventing rapid deterioration of eyesight

While you can’t stop the normal impacts of aging, you can take proactive steps to maximize eye health and decelerate vision loss.

Get regular eye exams

Comprehensive eye exams allow early detection and timely treatment of vision-threatening conditions like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular edema.

Eat eye-healthy foods

Follow a nutrient-rich diet focused on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats. Key antioxidants for the eyes include vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Quit smoking

Smoking greatly accelerates eye damage from aging and disease. Quitting preserves ocular blood flow and reduces free radical damage.

Control blood sugar

Managing diabetes and prediabetes can prevent retinal damage and loss of visual sharpness from uncontrolled high blood sugar.

Wear protective eyewear

Sunglasses block UV light while safety goggles create a barrier against eye injuries at home, work or during sports.

Give eyes frequent breaks

Follow the 20/20/20 rule – take a 20 second break every 20 minutes to view something 20 feet away when doing extended close work. This reduces eyestrain.

Practice good eye hygiene

Keep eyes clean and free of infection by not sharing eye makeup, avoiding eye rubbing, replacing old makeup, thoroughly cleaning contact lenses, and getting prompt treatment for eye infections or inflammation.

Don’t smoke

Avoid direct and secondhand cigarette smoke exposure, which release toxins and free radicals that can severely damage eyesight.

Maintain a healthy weight

Obesity and weight gain increase the risks of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis – all associated with accelerated vision deterioration.


While you can’t completely control age-related declines in vision, understanding the key risk factors allows you to take preventive steps to preserve eyesight. Getting regular eye exams, maintaining healthy nutrition and clear ocular adnexa, managing diseases, reducing eye strain, and protecting eyes from injury and UV exposure helps sustain visual abilities well into old age. Implement proactive vision care habits rather than waiting for vision impairment to motivate action. Your eyesight deserves the same level of care as the rest of your body. Committing to healthy eye maintenance starting early pays off with many years of sharp, comfortable vision.