Age & Vision
Your eyesight starts to change from the moment you are born. It's a natural process and two thirds of the population wear spectacles or contact lenses to help them see better.
Most people from there mid 40s onwards experience something known as presbyopia. This occurs when the lens inside your eye loses some of its flexibility, making it difficult to focus on close-up objects. Presbyopia is a natural condition and can be corrected with glasses and contact lenses
But age can sometimes affect your sight in more serious ways. In later life you are more likely to experience a medical problem which restricts your vision. Glaucoma, for example, is much more common in those over 40, while cataracts and macular degeneration mainly occur in people over 60.
You may not even notice some of the symptoms initially, which is why regular eye examinations are essential as you get older. Your vision is priceless and the sooner a problem is detected, the greater the chance of being treated successfully.
Glacuoma is caused by too much pressure in the eye.
Because there is usually no pain and the condition gets worse gradually, you probably won't realise you have glaucoma until it is well developed. By this time the permanent damage to your vision may have occurred. Glaucoma is potentially serious as it can cause tunnel vision and eventually blindness if left untreated.
Glaucoma mainly affects people over the age of 40. You are also more at risk if you have a close relative who has glaucoma, if you are of Afro-Caribbean origin, or if you suffer from diabetes.
Fortunately, glaucoma can be detected - even in its initial stages - by an examination at our practice. The disease can usually be treated successfully by special eye drops, although sometimes laser surgery may be required. Providing it is treated sufficiently early, glaucoma itself will not normally stop you from enjoying good eyesight.
A cataract is not a disease, but simply a clouding of the lens inside your eye.
This is mainly the result of the aging process, with cataracts occurring in more than half the population over 65.
The symptoms of cataracts are deteriorating sight, sometimes blurred or double vision, and a yellowish tinge to everything you see.
Cataracts develop slowly and are not painful, but in about 10% of cases your vision will be badly affected.
A simple operation can usually solve the problem before it gets to that stage. This removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with a plastic one which enables you to see clearly once again. Many people with cataracts, however, find their vision is acceptable and so don't need an operation.
The macula is part of the eye that enables you to see straight ahead and perform detailed visual work, such as reading.
Sometimes the macula stops working properly and this usually occurs as you get older.
In fact macular degeneration is the most common cause of poor sight in those aged over 60. Although it is not painful and does not cause complete blindness, it does block out your central field vision. This can make it very difficult for you to carry out many everyday activities.
Macular degeneration can develop either quite quickly or gradually. The warning signs are blurred or distorted central vision, sometimes with a blank patch in the middle of your vision. Some forms of this disease can be treated by laser, but only in the early stages of their development.