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Your Vision & Hearing Health

A Guide to the Ageing Eye

Posted on April 11, 2024

As we get older, part of the ageing process means changes begin to occur across our whole body. As the World Health Organisation explains, this happens as a result of a variety of molecular and cellular damage over time leading to a general, gradual decrease in physiological capacity.

As your body and mind become impacted by the years, so do your precious eyes. Learn more about the changes to look out for, age-related conditions such as presbyopia, and how to protect your eyes from the risks that come with ageing. 

How the eyes age with you

1. Birth to teenage years

During this period of your life, your eyes are still developing. This is when conditions associated with refractive error may develop including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. This is influenced by changes in eye shape as the eye grows. 

2. Twenties and thirties

In this time, your eyes have completed their growth and stabilise. If you have developed an eye condition in your younger years, this is when those who are eligible for refractive surgery are able to undertake this for vision correction. 

3. Age 40 and above

After the age of 40, changes begin to occur in the eyes as muscles in the eye weaken and risk of eye disease increases. 

You may experience:

  • Trouble focusing on objects close to your face due to loss of flexibility of the lens. You may hold reading material further away from your face to view it. 
  • Altered colour perception due to yellowing or browning of the lens.
  • Smaller pupil size due to muscles that regulate pupil size weakening.

Age-related eye conditions

1. Presbyopia

You may develop presbyopia as the lens stiffens and it becomes more difficult to see objects nearer to the face. Distance vision should remain unaffected initially, but glasses or contact lenses can be used to correct presbyopia

Multifocal contact lenses or progressive lenses may be required for those who already have other vision problems for performing activities that involve changing from close vision to distance vision. Otherwise, reading glasses or monovision contact lenses will assist in correcting vision. 

2. Dry eyes 

An article by MSD explains thinning of the conjunctiva along with decreased tear production means there is a high chance of developing dry eyes. The National Institute of Health explains you may experience burning, dry, scratchy red eyes and blurred vision

This can be relieved with eye drops or lifestyle changes. It is a good idea to avoid smoke, wind or air conditioning, limit time spent on screens, stay hydrated and ensure you are getting enough sleep. 

3. Age-related macular degeneration

This condition is the leading cause of blindness for older Australians. It occurs as the macula degrades, which is the part of your eye that controls sharp, central vision, found in the retina. It may cause distortion or dark spots in your eyesight. The condition can also impact your ability to distinguish faces, read, drive and carry out close work

There are two types of AMD, dry and wet. In those with dry AMD, the macula gradually thins over several years. Wet AMD occurs faster, and is caused by abnormal blood vessels growing in the back of the eye and damaging the macula. 

4. Cataracts

These occur when ageing or injury affects the tissue in the lens and causes it to become cloudy, causing blurry or hazy vision. While glasses may assist, surgery may be necessary as the cataract develops. 

5. Glaucoma

This condition involves damage to the optic nerve, and is thought to be linked with intraocular pressure (IOP). Glaucoma results in gradual loss of peripheral vision, and affects 1 in 8 Australians aged 80 and above. 

How to protect your ageing eyes 

While ageing is inevitable, there are some steps you can take throughout your life to ensure your eyes are as healthy as possible and lower your risk factors. These include:

  1. Wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes from UV.
  2. Refrain from smoking.
  3. Maintain a healthy diet.
  4. Stay active.
  5. Receive regular eye examinations from a reliable optometrist. 

Keep your eyes young with George & Matilda Eyecare 

It is recommended that you receive an eye exam once every two years, or every year after the age of 60. 

Many eye diseases often do not show symptoms until the condition has already caused significant damage. Regular visits to an optometrist are important to ensure early detection of any potential developing eye conditions and allow sight-saving intervention that prevents or slows progression. 

George & Matilda Eyecare practices are available all around Australia for regular examinations with a reliable, local optometrist. Book an appointment or visit your local practice to browse the eyewear range today, and ensure your eyes are operating at their best for as long as possible.

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