Ageing comes with various changes in your body, including your eyesight. Your vision can deteriorate with age or not be as sharp as before due to various factors. These changes are usually among those who are 40 and above. Some of these changes may not be severe or indicate any grave conditions and may only require straightforward solutions such as eyeglasses. However, some are also critical and may require surgery, making it essential to pay attention to them immediately to prevent them from worsening. You must consult a professional as soon as you realise some changes in your vision and not ignore it by attributing it to old age alone.
The Eye Ageing Process
The eye ageing process is often gradual, and the changes may initially be subtle. Those with pre-existing health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, glaucoma, etc., may be more prone to more severe eye issues during the ageing process. The nature of your job can also further aggravate the eye ageing process.
You may notice that you can’t see objects as clearly as before or read using your usual reading distance. The eye ageing process may be evident through some signs such as:
- A change in eye colour, such as the appearance of yellow and white spots on the retina’s surface
- Your eye becoming more transparent in appearance
- Weaker eye muscles, sometimes causing a sagging effect
- Constant eye irritation and dryness
Eyeballs recede into the eye socket due to the gradual reduction of retro-orbital fat, which provides a protective layer for the eye
Some parts of the eye, both internal and external, deteriorate at various stages of the ageing process. These parts include:
- The pupil, as its diameter gradually reduces
- The vitreous humour changes from a gel-like structure to liquid. It may also eventually disconnect from the retina
- The lens, which may experience some cataract formation due to protein precipitation
- The retina’s macula, which may have its receptors degenerating, leading to vision loss
- The cornea, which in some cases, becomes less sensitive
If you have sudden eye pain, it’s best to consult an eye specialist to ensure it’s no cause for alarm.
The Effects Of Ageing Eyes
As your eyes age, you may notice some effects, such as not seeing objects that are close as you would have been able to at first. This effect is known as presbyopia and is often common in those in their 40s and 50s. Experts explain that presbyopia comes about when the eye’s intraocular lens can’t change shape as often as before. It can be managed using reading glasses or contact lenses that help to correct or manage your eyesight. Although you can’t cure presbyopia entirely, regularly changing your glasses or lens can help make your vision clearer.
Another effect of ageing eyes is that you may not detect colours as sharply as before, and you may experience a halo effect when you try to look at bright lights. Additionally, it can make it difficult for you to adjust to the light in the dark. As a result, it may be risky to drive at night.
Due to such effects, the likelihood of falling and other domestic accidents also increases among those experiencing age-related vision changes. Therefore, it’s best to contact professionals such as Belson and Sons for immediate and quality eye care as soon as possible. Constant eye checks or examinations are also advisable to ensure that you catch any potential issues in their early stages.
Vision Changes With Age – What Is Normal?
As you age, you may experience some changes in your vision. However, some of these ages are normal and not much cause for concern. Some regular changes include a slight change in your eyes’ ability to focus, needing brighter light to make activities such as reading more manageable and finding it difficult to differentiate similar colours such as blue and black.
Some other vision changes you should expect with age include:
- Dry eyes
- Regular tearing due to eye sensitivity
You may not experience all these at a go, but it’s best to attend to these changes early enough and have regular appointments with your eye specialist to ensure that these don’t affect your health or lifestyle.
How to tell the difference between the ageing process and disease symptoms
It’s worth noting that it’s not all the time you experience vision changes that it may necessarily be due to ageing. Sometimes these changes could be underlying symptoms of a disease or condition. The best way to differentiate between the ageing process and whether you’re experiencing disease symptoms is to speak to your doctor as early as possible. This way, you can raise any doubts or questions you have and take any necessary tests to ensure that you’re only going through the ageing process and not experiencing any severe condition or disease. After consulting your doctor, they may advise you to speak to a specialist depending on their findings.
Here are a few frequently asked questions regarding age-related vision changes:
At what age do you get a free eye test?
If you’re in the UK, you can access a free eye test by the NHS if you’re under 16, between 16-18, or are 60 and above.
What’s the average eyesight by age?
Adults within the age bracket of 19 and 40 generally have good eyesight but are advised to check their eyes at least once every two years. As mentioned earlier, people from age 40 upwards may experience presbyopia, causing them to hold objects further away before seeing clearly. By 60 and above, the likelihood of you experiencing more eye issues is higher but may not always be the case. As such, it’s best to schedule regular eye checks.
How often does your vision change?
Some vision changes may occur at early ages in some cases, while some experience these vision changes as they grow. According to eye specialists, some people may need to change their eye prescription annually, while others may take two or three years. It all depends on one’s specific eye condition.
Eye Disorders In The Elderly
Some of the common eye disorders primarily faced by the elderly include:
You’re more likely to develop glaucoma as you grow older, with experts confirming that every decade after the age of 40 presents a higher risk of you getting this eye condition. Glaucoma comes about as a result of the connecting nerve from the eye to the brain being damaged.
This condition is incurable and can eventually lead to complete vision loss within a span of 10 to 15 years if it’s not managed correctly. Although it doesn’t have glaring symptoms, it’s best to consult your eye doctor if you notice any gradual loss in your eyesight. Measures such as eye drops and surgery can help make glaucoma manageable by reducing eye pressure and help prevent complete blindness if diagnosed early enough.
This condition is one of the significant causes of vision loss in older people. Macular degeneration could be classified as either dry or wet and usually starts from around age 55 upwards. Whereas the middle of the retina degenerates in dry macular degeneration, wet macular degeneration involves blood vessels leaking beneath the retina. Again, this condition can’t be cured and can be lifelong. A significant symptom is a blurred vision.
This condition occurs when the eye’s retina is damaged due to diabetes. It often happens as a result of significant amounts of blood sugar blocking the retina’s blood vessels.
Statistics reveal that the number of people with diabetes, especially Type 2, is projected to increase worldwide. Therefore, it’s essential to develop healthy lifestyle habits to minimise the risk of getting diabetic retinopathy as you age. It’s best to have regular eye exams to ensure that your retina is in good condition.
Some symptoms include:
- Pain in the eye
- Eye swelling
- Blurry vision
Your cornea not healing as rapidly as it should if there’s a wound
Treatment For Age-Related Vision Changes
Age-related vision changes can usually be treated with eyeglasses, eye drops, and in extreme cases, surgery. It’s best to start thinking about your eye’s health right from the word go. Here are some dos and don’ts:
- Visit your eye care professional regularly to make it easy to detect any issues before they deteriorate
- Eat healthily to minimise your risk of getting diseases such as diabetes, which could lead to severe age-related vision changes
- Get your eye prescriptions checked regularly
- Ignore any symptoms that could indicate possible age-related vision changes
- Smoke excessively
- Self-medicate or assume you don’t need professional help to treat any eye issue
If you’re in the UK and concerned about your eye health or experiencing any age-related vision changes, Belson and Sons are available to assist you with a wide range of optical services and excellent eye care for you and your family. To book an appointment with your preferred location in mind or make an inquiry, contact us on 08009803464.