Like our bodies, our eyes gradually change as we age. The majority of these changes are perfectly normal and can be easily treated with prescription glasses or contact lenses, but some changes may be a cause for concern. Certain forms of vision loss can be a sign of more serious age-related eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. If you’re not sure what vision changes are considered normal and which ones might be a sign of a disease, read below to learn how your eyes change as you age.
What Are Normal Age-Related Vision Changes?
As people age their eye lens becomes harder and less elastic, a condition commonly known as presbyopia. This makes it increasingly difficult to focus on objects up close. It typically starts around the age of 40 and often occurs in those who have never had vision issues before. Common symptoms to look out for include squinting when reading materials at arm’s length, headaches and eye strain. If you’re diagnosed, your eye care professional will suggest a corrective treatment that works best for your current stage of presbyopia. Common treatments include bifocal lenses and contacts, multifocal contacts, monovision lenses or LASIK eye surgery.
Distinguishing Between Colours
It’s also normal to have difficulties distinguishing colours as you age. Decreased colour vision happens when the cells in the retina responsible for colour vision lose strength causing some colours to appear less bright and distinguishable from other colours. Most notably, blue and black tend to look the same.
Difficulty Adjusting to Light Changes
As we age, the muscles in our eyes that control our pupil size start to lose strength. When this happens, you can become less responsive to light changes. Your eyes may also take longer to adjust when entering a dark room and exiting into a lighter area. You might also struggle to clearly focus when driving at night. This is perfectly normal as you age and can easily be corrected with glasses or content lenses.
Our bodies also start to produce fewer tears as we get older. This can result in dry eyes that can cause stinging and burning sensations. Artificial tears can often help but for more serious conditions prescription eye medication may be required.
If you start seeing flashes, known as vitreous detachment, it’s important to see your eye care professional. These are often caused when the vitreous inside the eye liquifies and pulls away from the retina, which is harmless, but they can also be caused by a detached retina that can lead to blindness.
Cataracts may be an age-related eye disease, but they are so common among seniors that they’re considered to be a normal ageing change. In fact, it’s estimated that half of all seniors will have a cataract by age 65, which will eventually cloud the eye and lead to vision loss. Fortunately, it can be corrected and cataract surgery that removes the cataractous lens and replaces it with a healthy one.
What Is Not Considered Normal?
Where slight changes to your eyes are considered normal in your later years, actual vision loss is not. If you start to lose your vision, it could be an indication of eye disease. Because it’s not always easy to tell the difference between a normal change or a serious one, it’s important to have your eyes inspected every year when you reach the age of 40.
Regular eye exams can ensure that your vision is changing normally and that your prescription is always up to date. If you haven’t seen an eye doctor in over a year, contact us today to book your next eye exam and colour test at Laurier Optical.