Blog


2015-07-30
Vision changes with age


Just as our physical strength decreases with age, our eyes also exhibit an age-related decline in performance – particularly as we reach our 60's and beyond.

Presbyopia is an age related change in vision and is perfectly normal and not a sign of disease in process.

Cataracts can be considered an age-related disease, they are extremely common among seniors and can be readily corrected with cataract surgery.

Glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy are more serious age related eye diseases that can potentially affect our quality of life as we grow older

Presbyopia.

Starts at about the age of 40. It gets more difficult to focus on objects up close. This is quite normal and is due to hardening of the lens inside your eye. We can compensate for this by holding objects a bit further away but only for a while. Eventually we will need an aid to work and read close up. That includes prescription readers, multifocal spectacles or multifocal contact lenses.

Cataracts.

Sometimes even classified as a normal age related change as they are most common among seniors... Cataracts are a medical condition in which the lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque, resulting in blurred vision. Most people over 65 have some degree of cataract formation in their eyes.

Thankfully, modern cataract surgery is extremely safe and so effective that 100% of vision lost to cataract formation usually is restored.

Macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration (also called age-related macular degeneration or AMD) is the leading cause of blindness and is a major age related disease. AMD is degeneration of the macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for the sharp, central vision needed to read or drive. Because the macula primarily is affected in AMD, central vision loss may occur. Macular degeneration affects millions of people and this number is expected to increase... Currently, there is no cure for AMD, but medical treatment may slow its progression or stabilize it.

Glaucoma.

Your risk of developing glaucoma increases with each decade after age 40 – from around 1% in your 40s to up to 12% in your 80’s. Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is slowly destroyed. In most people this damage is due to an increased pressure inside the eye - a result of blockage of the circulation of aqueous, or its drainage. In other patients the damage may be caused by poor blood supply to the vital optic nerve fibres, a weakness in the structure of the nerve, and/or a problem in the health of the nerve fibres themselves. If detected early enough, glaucoma can often be controlled with medical treatment or surgery and vision loss can be prevented.

Diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetes is on the rise…and it is believed up to 30% of people who have diabetes have not yet been diagnosed. Among known diabetics over the age 40 the estimate is that 40% have some degree of diabetic retinopathy, and one of every 12 people with diabetes in this age group has advanced vision-threatening retinopathy. Controlling the underlying diabetic condition in its early stages is the key to preventing vision loss.

There also more subtle changes in our vision and eye structures that take place as we grow older. These changes include:

•Reduced pupil size.

•Dry eyes.

•Loss of peripheral vision.

•Decreased colour vision.

What you can do about age-related vision changes

A healthy diet and wise lifestyle choices –regular exercise – healthy weight and reducing stress are a good start in reducing the risks of vision loss. Regular eye exams are extremely important to detect and prevent further vision loss.

Madhu Lohmaier