How does the ageing process affect your eyesight?
30 April 2019
Effects of age on the eyes
The natural ageing process is something which none of us can hide from. The physical and mental changes it brings are normal and, while you can combat some of them with cosmetic surgery and laser eye or lens surgery, it’s important to monitor things to ensure that you’re still healthy and that the changes are normal. We all know how important good eyesight is and it’s just a fact of life that the old you get, the more it deteriorates.
Presbyopia is something which begins to affect people in their 40s as the natural lens inside their eye hardens, making it difficult to focus on objects close to them, or to read small print. Simple reading glasses can usually help with this, and it’s probably the most common age-related eye condition a person will experience.
Once a person reaches their 40s, they might also begin experiencing dry eyes and computer vision syndrome. Dry eyes are exactly what the name suggests: your eyes produce fewer tears, resulting in a stinging or burning sensation. Some people even find that this gives them itchy eyes, but it can be easily remedied with lubricating eye drops. Computer vision syndrome is becoming more prevalent in the 21st century, particularly as people often spend hours a day in front of a screen for work. The eye muscles become strained if they spend too long focusing on bright objects, leading to temporary blurred vision. The screen brightness can also interfere with a person’s sleep, further hindering eye rest and recovery overnight.
Moving on into their 50s, a person might begin to experience a range of other eye issues and changes. Cataracts are one of the most common age-related eye changes that somebody will experience, occurring when the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy. This can be rectified with simple cataract surgery, which is one of the most commonly-performed procedures in the world. It’s estimated that around half of people aged 65 or over have cataracts so, while it’s not something to worry excessively about, it’s important to be aware of them and monitor any changes in your eyes over the years. Going for regular eye tests is the best way to do this. Generally, the older a person becomes, the higher their risk of cataracts is, and the greater the severity of them.
Glaucoma is another condition which begins to particularly affect people aged in their fifties. It happens when the pressure in a person’s eye is too high. It’s often hereditary and can lead to vision loss and blindness if left untreated. Again, regular eye examinations are key in detecting glaucoma early on as, once identified, it can be treated with prescription medication and eye drops, or even laser treatment and other surgeries.
Something else to be aware of is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The macula is part of your retina which controls detailed, central vision, so when this degenerates, a person’s vision may become blurry or feature blank spots. This makes reading, driving, and even recognising faces difficult. AMD essentially occurs when a person begins to lose cells in their macula. In the early stages nutritional supplements may be helpful but advanced stages may need laser treatment or specialised injections.
A person in their 60s might start to have more spots and floaters appearing in their vision. Floaters are harmless and occur when the vitreous starts to shrink and liquefy as part of the natural ageing process. The vitreous is the gel-like substance inside a person’s eye in between the lens and the retina, and helps to keep the retina in place. If the person notices a sudden increase in floaters, or the floaters are accompanied by light flashes, it could be a symptom of a retinal detachment, a condition which can lead to blindness. In this case, the person should see an optometrist as soon as possible.
People with diabetes need to be particularly aware of diabetic retinopathy as they age, where the small vessels in their retina leak blood or fluids. This clouds vision and can also lead to excessive floaters and blind spots. Following this, new blood vessels might grow, again bleeding into the centre of the eye and heightening the problems. This leads to retina swelling, which can be treated with a laser or drug injections to try to reverse some damage. Among diabetics, it is thought that up to 40% have some form of diabetic retinopathy which may lead to permanent vision loss.
There are other effects on the eyes that come with the natural process of ageing, from reduced pupil size, to a decline in colour vision and narrowing visual fields. It’s normal to find your eyes struggling to adjust to sudden bright lights, and to find it harder to identify where one colour ends and a similar one begins. Bearing natural age-related eye deterioration in mind, it is important to be aware of the conditions which may lead to sight loss, and to know the steps to take to mitigate the effects. Get in touch with us to see how our procedures can help you combat negative age-related eye changes. We’ll help you maintain natural, clear vision and provide you with lifetime aftercare. Start your journey with us today.
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