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Understanding Age-Related Vision Changes

16 September 2023
Understanding Age-Related Vision Changes

As we journey through life, our bodies undergo a multitude of transformations, and our eyes are no exception. Particularly as we reach our 60s and beyond, age-related changes in our vision become more noticeable.

In this blog, we'll explore these changes and how they can impact our quality of life.

Normal Age-Related Changes

1. Presbyopia: After crossing the age of 40, it becomes apparent that focusing on close-up objects isn't as easy as it used to be.

This is due to a natural process called presbyopia, where the eye's lens loses its flexibility. While initially, you might compensate by holding reading material farther away, eventually, reading glasses, progressive lenses, or multifocal contact lenses become necessary.

2. Cataracts: although considered an age-related eye disease, cataracts are exceedingly common among seniors. By the age of 65, about half of Australians have some degree of cataract formation in their eyes. The good news is that modern cataract surgery is highly effective in restoring lost vision. Multifocal lens implants can also further reduce the need for reading glasses.

Serious Age-Related Eye Diseases:

While some vision changes are inevitable, we should be vigilant about more serious age-related eye diseases that can profoundly affect our lives:

1. Macular Degeneration (AMD): AMD, a leading cause of blindness among seniors, currently affects over 1.9 million Australians and is expected to double to 3.8 million by 2050 due to an aging population.

2. Glaucoma: The risk of glaucoma increases with age, with up to a 12 percent risk in your 80s.

3. Diabetic Retinopathy: Over 40 percent of diabetics over age 40 have some degree of diabetic retinopathy that could lead to permanent vision loss

Other Age-Related Vision Changes:

In addition to these conditions, aging brings more subtle changes in vision and eye structures:

1.Reduced Pupil Size: Aging weakens the muscles controlling pupil size and light reaction, making the pupil smaller and less responsive. This means older adults need more ambient light for reading and may be more sensitive to glare.

2.Dry Eyes: As we age, our bodies produce fewer tears, leading to dry eye discomfort. Artificial tears or prescription medications can provide relief.

3.Loss of Peripheral Vision: Aging results in a natural loss of peripheral vision, which can affect driving safety. Increased caution is essential, and turning your head to look both ways at intersections can help.

4. Vitreous Detachment: Aging leads to the vitreous gel in the eye becoming more watering, causing floaters and flashes of light. While usually harmless, these symptoms can also indicate a detached retina, which requires immediate attention.

So then, how do we maintain healthy vision?

To preserve your vision as you age, consider these steps:

Healthy Diet: Eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants to support eye health.

Lifestyle Choices: Avoid smoking, as it can contribute to vision loss.

Routine Eye Exams: Regular eye exams are crucial. Discuss any concerns or family history of eye problems with Shannon.

Medications: Inform us about all medications, including non-prescription drugs and supplements, as they can impact your eye health.

By being proactive and informed, you can ensure that your eyes remain healthy and functional throughout your lifetime, despite the natural changes that come with age.

At Outlook Eye Centre, Toowoomba, we are always happy to help. Please feel free to get in touch.

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