Young adults in their 20s and 30s typically have healthy eyes and decent vision. Most age-related eye issues, such as presbyopia (farsightedness that occurs with aging) begin around age 40. (Learn More)

If you are between 19 and 40 years old, you likely have relatively good vision that is fairly close to 20/20. This could be either with or without a need for corrective eyewear, such as contacts or glasses.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) publishes that most eye-related issues in young adults (under the age of 40) are due to eye injuries or visual stress. (Learn More)

As you age, your eyes will begin to change and your vision can get worse. This is completely normal. There are steps you can take to keep your eyes healthy and maintain your eyesight for as long as possible. (Learn More)

Be sure to talk to your optometrist about how to take care of your eyes and receive regular eye exams.

happy couple sitting above beach

As you age, your eyes can change. If you need corrective lens for astigmatism (irregularly shaped corneas), hyperopia (farsightedness), or myopia (nearsightedness), your prescription can change, and you may need a stronger lens to clear your vision. It is completely normal for prescription needs to change with age.

The lens of your eye also hardens with age, which can lead to age-related farsightedness, called presbyopia. As the lens becomes more rigid, focusing on the retina directly is more difficult. This leads to blurred vision and trouble seeing things clearly close up. Muscles that support the lens also relax with age, contributing to visual errors.

Presbyopia is a condition that typically occurs around age 40 or later, but you can develop the condition any time after age 35, the National Eye Institute (NEI) publishes. With presbyopia, even if you had 20/20 vision before, you may now need readers to see things like menus, read small text, or see things clearly up close.

Usually when you are in your 20s and 30s, your eyes are fairly healthy, and you likely have 20/20 vision, either with or without corrective contact lenses or eyeglasses. Age-related changes in the eyes often begin in your late 30s to early 40s.

Conditions That Can Arise at This Age

Most of the potential vision issues that can come up for young adults are going to be related to eye strain or possible eye injuries.

Eye strain can be the result of looking at screens and long-term exposure to blue light, such as that emitted by computers, smartphones, and television sets. Often, young adults spend a lot of time looking at screens, and this can contribute to tired, irritated, and strained eyes.

Digital eye strain, or computer vision syndrome (CVS), can happen from prolonged screen time. Most American adults spend around seven hours every day looking at a computer screen. This can cause CVS, which can include the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Eye strain
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder tension

Eye strain from spending so much time looking at a screen can be minimized by following the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at least 20 feet away for about 20 seconds at a time. This can help to reduce symptoms of computer vision syndrome, as it allows your eyes time to relax and re-center.

Eye fatigue and strain are common in your 20s and 30s, as you likely spend a lot of time at the computer, on your smartphone, and watching tv. Exposure to blue light from these devices can be harmful to the eyes over time.

Try and rest your eyes when they get dry, strained, and irritated. Take frequent breaks from your screen. Reducing your exposure to blue light and screens for at least an hour or two before bed can help you to get more restful sleep as well.

Maintaining Healthy Eyes

graphic of an eyeball holding weight and carrot

The best thing you can do for your eyes to protect them as you age is to make good lifestyle choices, such as not smoking and eating a healthy and balanced diet. Consume foods that are rich in antioxidants, and eat multiple servings of vegetables and fruits every day.

Get regular eye exams. Talk to your eye doctor about any medications, vitamins, and supplements you take. Discuss any vision changes that may have arisen since the last visit.

Between the ages of 19 and 30, AOA recommends regular eye exams and visits to the optometrist at least every two years. More frequent visits are recommended if you have a family or personal history of eye-related issues. Problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of vision problems and eye diseases can mean that you may need to see an eye doctor more often.

If you start to experience vision issues, schedule an exam with your eye doctor as soon as possible.

There are additional measures you can take to maintain your eye health and promote optimal vision.

  • Wear sunglasses and protect your eyes from the sun and ultraviolet (UV) light. UV rays can damage the eyes with prolonged exposure. Sunglasses that have UVA and UVB protection, as well as visors or hats, can help to protect your eyes.
  • Exercise frequently. Healthy habits like regular exercise can increase oxygen levels in the eyes and enhance blood flow and circulation throughout the body. This can also help to purge toxins and keep the eyes healthy.
  • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands and be careful to avoid eye irritants, such as cosmetics or hair spray, near the eyes. This can help to keep the eyes and face clean and therefore reduce the risk for eye infections.
  • Maintain your corrective eyewear prescriptions. If you wear glasses or contacts for vision correction, be sure to wear them as directed. Not wearing your prescription eyewear can cause eye strain and potentially lead to further vision problems. Maintain your prescriptions, and follow all recommendations and directions on wearing, cleaning, and taking care of your contacts or glasses.
  • Limit screen time as much as you can, and give your eyes frequent breaks from LED devices and blue light. There are special glasses that may decrease exposure to blue light, and many smartphones have settings now that allow you to limit blue light exposure as well.

Taking care of your eyes often starts with regular health and lifestyle choices. Maintaining physical and emotional health can also help with vision and eyesight.

Talk to your optometrist about how to maintain your personal eye health. They can offer tips to improve and enhance your vision as you age.

References

Adult Vision: 19 to 40 Years of Age. (2019). American Optometric Association (AOA).

Facts About Presbyopia. (October 2010). National Eye Institute (NEI).

Computer Vision Syndrome. (2019). American Optometric Association (AOA).

Blue Light Has a Dark Side. (August 2018). Harvard Health.

How Vision Changes as You Age. (April 2019). All About Vision.