How ageing affects your eyes
Ageing affects every part of your body, so it’s no surprise if you’re experiencing changes in your eyes as you get older. Whilst adjusting to some of these changes is no more difficult than fine-tuning your spectacle prescription, others can seriously affect your health of eyes, leading to significant vision problems. Here are some common age-related eye conditions.
Most people during their 40s start to require reading glasses, and that’s due to a problem called presbyopia. It is considered a natural part of the ageing process. As we age, the eye lens starts to harden, and this makes it difficult for your eyes to focus. It is a type of refractive error, along with near-sightedness and far-sightedness.
Ever noticed small specks floating around your field of vision? These are known as ‘floaters’ and occur when the vitreous substance in your eye begins to shrink. When this happens, it sheds tiny strands, which then float across your visual field. Floaters are usually harmless, however, if you suddenly notice many floaters or they’re accompanied by flashing lights, it’s essential that you see an ophthalmologist immediately.
Ageing can lead your eyes to lose moisture, especially if you’re a woman who’s recently gone through the menopause. Dry eyes feel itchy and irritated, and you may notice that your eyes feel strained when you’re using a computer or you’re reading. Many people use eye drops to lubricate their eyes and relieve their symptoms.
Cataracts occur when the lens in the eye becomes cloudy, leading to a decrease in vision. They usually develop over a large period of time and can affect one or both eyes. Symptoms of cataracts include faded colours, blurred vision, difficulty with bright light, glare and problems seeing at night. If your cataract grows big enough and starts to affect your vision, your optometrist may recommend surgery to remove it.
Age-related macular degeneration
This condition involves changes to the macula, which is the area of the retina responsible for controlling central vision. If you have macular degeneration, you will probably notice that your vision is blurry, distorted or that there are empty spots in your central vision. With age-related macular degeneration, it can be difficult to read, recognise faces, or drive.
Your risk of developing glaucoma increases significantly after age 40. Whilst you have only a 1 chance in your 40s, this rises to 12% in your 80s. This common eye disorder occurs can be associated with high pressure in your eye, potentially leading to permanent vision loss. Usually, there are no symptoms in the early stages, leading the condition to go unnoticed and untreated. However, glaucoma can be detected with expert testing. That’s why it’s so important to attend regular eye tests and screening.
Are you concerned about changes to your eyes as you age? Is your vision deteriorating? If so, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Mr. Gurjeet Jutley, a highly experienced Consultant Ophthalmic surgeon at the Oxford University Hospital. He can carry out a comprehensive vision exam, which can include glaucoma testing.