Over 45?
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Over 45?

Have you noticed you're having to hold the newspaper out at arm's length just to read print? Join the club. As we age our eyes go through natural changes that affect our vision..

How does your eye change as you age?

As we age it is not only our bodies that change, but the structure of our eyes too. Certain characteristics of vision in our 30s function differently once we approach 45. These are normal changes which include the following;

  • A reduction in pupil size. As we age, the muscles controlling our pupils and their reaction to light begin to lose some strength. The result is a smaller pupil that is less responsive to changes in lighting. To put this in perspective, this means a 60 year old would require 3 times more ambient light to read without issue compared to the needs of a 20 year old eye.
  • Onset of Dry Eyes. As we grow older our eyes produce fewer tears, an issue that is even more prominent for women following menopause. With a lack of tears to hydrate the eyes there may be increased eye discomfort, burning or stinging.
  • Decreased ability to discern colours. As we age the cells in the retina that are responsible for healthy colour vision begin to lose sensitivity. This causes colours to appear dull and for the contrast between colours to be less obvious.
  • Vitreous detachment. The gel like vitreous which resides in your healthy eye begins to liquefy and detach as you age. While this is usually harmless it may result in ‘spots' on your vision.

Age Risks and How to Help Yourself

In your 40's you should be on the lookout for…

  • Presbyopia. This is an unavoidable part of ageing which makes it harder to focus on near objects.
    What can I do to help myself? Schedule routine eye checks at least every two years to explore vision options as you age.
  • Dry eye and computer vision syndrome. While both vision problems are generally harmless they may be brought on by lifestyle factors as well as age.
    What can I do to help myself? Eat a healthy diet, try to consume a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Blink often to spread your tear film, especially when working on computers or watching TV or driving.

In your 50s you should be on the lookout for…

  • Glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration (AMD). If you have any of these conditions, early intervention and treatment by an Ophthalmologist may reduce the effects and retain better sight during your lifetime.
    What can I do to help myself? As these conditions can worsen and significantly affect your vision and quality of life you should have routine eye exams which will then direct your course of action.
  • Advanced presbyopia. As presbyopia is a part of the ageing process it may continue to worsen and make close up activities more and more difficult. Those who previously had good distance vision may also experience a decrease in distance vision also

In your 60's you should be on the lookout for…

  • Increased risk for common age related eye disease.
    What can I do to help myself? As well as scheduling in regular eye exams you should have annual physicals to identify any potential underlying causes, such as diabetes, which may be contributing to poor eye health.
  • A decreased ability to see properly in low lighting environments.
    What can I do to help myself? Use brighter lights when reading or watching television and allow more time for your eyes to adjust to changing light conditions.
  • Visual disturbances including 'spots' and 'floaters'.
    What can I do to help myself? Eye floaters can be a natural part of ageing as vitreous gel in the eye liquefies and detaches with age. However it can also be a sign of retinal detachment so see your optometrist immediately if spots or floaters start to block your vision, or flashing lights occur.

In your 70's and 80's you should be on the lookout for…

  • Cataracts, which most people in this age bracket will have already developed.
    What can I do to help myself? Cataract surgery is the only option for correcting cataracts.
  • Colour vision decreases and overall visual field starts to narrow.
    What can I do to help myself? Consult your specialist regarding treatment options for cataracts and other vision conditions.

How does your eye change as you age?

Questions to ask your Lasik Specialist

  • Can you go over the eye examination with me and tell me what to expect?
  • Do I have a peripheral (side vision) field loss?
  • Is my condition stable, or can I lose more sight?
  • What new symptoms should I watch out for?
  • Are there treatments for my eye condition?
  • When should the treatment start and how long will it last?
  • What are the benefits of this treatment?
  • What are the risks and possible side effects associated with this treatment?
  • Are other treatments available?
  • How often will you schedule follow-up visits? Should I be monitored on a regular basis?
  • How soon can I resume my day to day activities?

How common are vision difficulty problems?

While we would all rather avoid it, vision problems are common as we reach middle age and beyond. This may begin in subtle ways, like needing to hold the paper at arm's length to make out the fine print, a problem made even worse by dim lighting. This is the most common vision impairment and is unavoidable, known as Presbyopia. Along with Presbyopia there is an increase in the onset of eye health problems in this age group and beyond with a wide range of treatment options available. While it is then common to encounter some form of vision problem as you age, with regular eye examinations and consultations with your Lasik specialist there is certainly a clear future for you.

Are there any factors that could influence my quality of vision?

  • Chronic, systemic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration.
  • A highly visually demanding job or work in an eye-hazardous occupation.
  • Health conditions like high cholesterol, thyroid conditions, anxiety or depression, and arthritis for which you take medications. Many medications, even antihistamines, have ocular side-effects.

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