What to check in your vision as you get older

We all know that eyesight changes as we get older and many of us will need to wear glasses and/or contact lenses as we age.   

A regular eye exam is the best way to protect your eyesight – it is particularly important if you notice a change in your vision, if your eye is injured in any way, or if you have a family history of eye disease.   

So, what should we be looking out for as we age?   

  • Difficulty reading – eye muscles start to weaken from the age of 45. It’s a natural ageing process of the eye that happens to all of us. By the time you’re 60, you’ll probably need separate reading glasses or an addition to your prescription lenses such as bifocals, multifocals or varifocals.  
  • Loss of peripheral vision – if you’ve noticed you don’t have the side-to-side vision you’re used to, this may be an early sign of glaucoma. This condition is mostly caused by abnormally high pressure inside your eye – and it often does not show major symptoms until irreversible damage to your vision has begun.   
  • Cloudy vision – if your vision seems dim or you’re having trouble reading, watching television, or just seeing what’s around you – even when you’re wearing glasses or contact lenses – you may have cataracts in one or both eyes. 
  • Distorted vision – the effects of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in its early stages often go unnoticed. In AMD, the part of your retina that’s responsible for central vision (the macula), deteriorates and creates a blind spot in the middle of your field of vision. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 50, with two different types affecting a range of people. The Wet type progresses quickly but the Dry type can progress slowly.   
  • Floating spots and flashes of light – we all see spots, specks, and other things that look like dark bits of string floating in our eyes on occasion – like when you stand up too quickly. These are actually cells and fibers in the vitreous, gel-like part of your eye. Generally, these floaters are infrequent and just a normal part of vision. If you suddenly see more floaters than normal, and they’re accompanied by bright flashing lights, the floaters may be a warning sign of an impending retinal detachment – an actual tear between the vitreous part of the eye and the retina. If left untreated, this tear can expand and lead to a serious loss of vision or blindness.   
  • Low vision/vision loss – while regular eye examinations and early diagnosis of eye disease can save much of your vision, in some cases, you may have already incurred some vision loss before you see your Optometrist or Ophthalmologist and begin treatment. This is commonly called low vision, a condition that can’t be corrected with eye glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. So it’s important to have regular eye exams, not just when you think something might be wrong.

It’s okay though, this list does not have to be all doom and gloom. We at The Eye Place can guide you in the best ways to keep your vision clear. 

Top tips for clear vision

  • Have regular eye exams – an eye exam is not just good for checking whether your glasses are up to date, it’s also a vital check on the health of your eyes. An exam can pick up eye diseases, such as glaucoma, cataracts and melanoma in the eye, as well as general health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure – even before you notice any signs or symptoms.   
  • Wear the right lenses – regular eye exams will establish whether you need a different prescription for your glasses or contact lenses. It’s important to wear the correct prescription lenses to ensure you aren’t hurting your vision. This will improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of accidents such as falls.  

As well as having regular eye exams and wearing the correct glasses and/or contact lenses, you can do several things to keep your eyes as healthy as possible. 

Top tips for eye health  

  • Eat well — eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for your eyes. Eating plenty of vegetables and fruit (plus oily fish!) will benefit your overall health and may help protect against some conditions such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD, see below).  
  • Wear sunglasses — strong sunlight can damage your eyes and may increase your risk of cataracts. Wear sunglasses or contact lenses with a built-in UV filter to protect your eyes from harmful rays.  
  • Quit smoking — smoking increases your chances of developing conditions such as dry eyes, cataracts, diabetes and AMD.  
  • Stay a healthy weight — being overweight increases your risk of diabetes, which can lead to sight loss.  
  • Use good lighting — to see well, your eyes need three times as much light when you’re 60 as they did when you were 20. Increase the daylight in your home by keeping windows clean and curtains pulled back. Make sure you have good electric lighting too, especially at the top and bottom of stairs so you can see the steps clearly. For reading or close work, use a direct light from a flexible table lamp, positioned so the light is not reflected by the page and causing glare.   
  • Exercise — good circulation and oxygen intake are important for your eye health. Both are stimulated by regular exercise.  
  • Sleep well — as you sleep, your eyes are continuously lubricated, clearing out irritants such as dust or smoke that may have accumulated during the day.  

Further information on eye health, blindness and low vision can be found at Vision Australia.  

Alternatively, pop in to our practice and have a chat with our friendly team today about your eye health. You can also visit our website and book in for your next appointment.   

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