Ageing and your Eyes

EyeZone opticians will see you right through life.

The ageing process starts in the eye when we reach the age of 40. This ageing process means that our eyes become less efficient in performing their visual function and need more help to see. Our eyes as they age, also, become more susceptible to sight-damaging diseases. EyeZone opticians have the expertise and specialised equipment needed to detect signs of eye disease early and ensure that you get the best care.

The first sign of aging in the eye is a reduction in our close vision. We call this PRESBYOPIA. Changes to the lens inside the eye which allows us to focus on close work; this means that we need to hold print away from us to see it clearly. For many of us, this is our first introduction to glasses, when we need to get our first pair for reading. These glasses will need to be changed on average every two years.

How does ageing in the eye affect other aspects of our vision? These changes are very subtle and often we do not notice them until they become a problem;

  • GLARE; Vision in bright light or glare conditions usually decreases. This is due to changes inside the lens of the eye. We notice night driving becomes and problem and we find that seeing in bright sunlight is uncomfortable and difficult. It takes the older eye up to 5 times longer to recover from glare than the young eye. Your optometrist can recommend special lenses in your glasses to help with this.
  • POOR VISION IN LOW ILLUMINATION; the older eye has more difficulties seeing when the ambient illumination is not bright enough. This means that it can be difficult to get around in places where the lighting is not bright enough. Older people need to take extra care in these situations. This can also lead to problems when reading, even when you have new reading glasses. Older people need 2 to 3 times more light to read than young people, so as well as keeping your reading glasses up to date, invest in a good reading lamp.
  • DRIVING; this is a particular area where older people need to take extra care, both for their own safety and that of other road users.  Over the age of 50, the distance vision in the eye starts to change. Many people who have never needed to use spectacles for driving and TV, or just had them for reading, now find they need to use glasses for distance vision purposes.  Your optometrist will explain this to you when you go for your eye test.  If you experience glare from the headlights of on-coming cars, another problem related to ageing in the eye, a special coating can be out on the lenses of these glasses, to reduce the effects of this unpleasant phenomenon. 
  • Visual Field; This is a change taking place in your eyes which can also affect your driving, is the gradual reduction in your visual field which takes place in all individuals as they age, ie your peripheral vision starts to reduce. By the time a person reaches their 70’s and 80’s, the visual field has reduced to such an extent it could increase the risk of a car accident. Your optometrist can do a special test for you to check your field of vision.
  • DRY EYES; A normal problem commonly experienced with our eyes as we get older includes dry eyes. Dry eyes occur because our tear quality deteriorates with age. This means although we may produce plenty of tears, they are not good enough to keep the eye moist. Common symptoms of this problem include itching, a burning sensation, light sensitivity and excess tearing going from indoors to outdoors. Your optometrist can carry out a test to assess your tears and give you advice on how to manage the problem.

Ageing causes a decrease in visual function even in the healthiest of eyes. Your optometrist can help you minimise the effects of these problems. However, the ageing eye also becomes more prone to diseases which can threaten the sight in your eyes and if left untreated can lead to blindness. The most common causes of vision loss in the over-50’s age group result from conditions such as Age Related Macular Degeneration, (AMD), Cataracts, Glaucoma and Diabetic retinopathy, as well as other less common problems related to general health issues such as blood pressure and cholesterol.