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Age-related eye conditions you need to know about
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Our vision changes as we age and it's vital we learn more about conditions which may affect vision...

Did you know that by the time we are over- 60 years old over 96% of the older population will need some form of vision correction?

This will include helping to correct both long-sightedness and short-sightedness as well as with the loss of vision from a number of eye health conditions which are age-related.

To read more about how vision changes as we get older, click here.

Presbyopia

Vision naturally deteriorates over time and Presbyopia occurs when the lens in the eye stiffens, occurring from the pre-teen years but only becoming evident in the mid-to-late-forties.

You don’t need to worry about this too much as every adult experiences hardening of the lens and usually you can ease the effect simply by holding objects (like a book) further away from your face.

Early detection of many of the eye conditions which are age-related and cause sight loss from a sight test can help lead to a better quality of life.

Age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) impairs your central vision and is the leading cause of blindness in the UK, usually affecting people over the age of 50.

AMD affects your central vision and it may become blurry or distorted, and gaps or dark spots may appear.

It’s important to remember that no matter how advanced your AMD is, you will not lose all your sight as there is always some peripheral vision remaining.

Until recently, most people with AMD were unaware they had it until their sight was affected.

Nowadays, sophisticated eye scanning machines are more widely available in opticians and are helping with diagnosing early AMD.

A regular sight test is key to help preserve sight, as treatment is only effective before any serious damage is caused.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye condition which irreparably damages your optic nerve – the part that carries information from your eye to your brain.

This is caused by having too much or too little pressure at the back of the eye.

It’s one of the most common eye conditions that develops as we get older, particularly over the age of 40.

Glaucoma will create a ‘tunnel’ effect in your vision and can severely impact your peripheral vision.

As we age it’s important to have a regular sight test to maintain the best level of eye health which enables us to live a richer life.

Cataracts

It’s quite common to have some form of cataracts in our senior years as it’s the leading cause of treatable vision loss in the UK and is largely age-related.

Cataracts are a clouding of the eye lens and form inside the eye, rather than on top.

Cataracts can cause blurred or ‘misty’ vision, colour fading, susceptibility to being dazzled by lights (like car headlamps) and difficulty seeing in dim conditions.

In many of these cases a person’s vision could be improved by simply prescribing the correct glasses or cataract surgery.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of diabetic visual impairment and the most common form of diabetic eye disease.

Diabetes typically a life-long condition that occurs when the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood is too high because the body can’t use it properly.

Diabetic retinopathy can affect anyone who has diabetes, whether they’re being treated with insulin, tablets or diet only.

It affects the blood vessels supplying the retina, or the ‘seeing part of the eye’ and can cause partial vision loss. If left untreated it can lead to blindness.

There is an increased risk of developing diabetic retinopathy as we get older, alongside uncontrolled blood sugar/pressure levels.

The best defence against this age-related eye disease is to have a sight test when your diabetes is diagnosed.

It’s important to attend your diabetic retinopathy screening when it’s offered to you!

Dry Eye

The most common causes of eye pain are dry eye syndrome or blepharitis, which is inflammation of the eyelid.

Ironically, watery eyes can be a sign of dry eye, as well as stinging or burning and blurred vision or a gritty sensation.

A lot of people will confuse this with tiredness, so a good test is to stare straight ahead at something for as long as possible – if you feel discomfort or a need to blink before 10 seconds is up, it could be dry eye.

Dry eye is usually a natural sign of ageing, but it’s recently been increasing in younger people due to the length of time spent in front of a screen.

Because we blink less when we concentrate, the hydrating tears on the surface of our eyes evaporates quicker than we can replace them.

Reminder

Most of the above eye conditions must be managed to prevent their progression and in cases, to improve symptoms.

Even if you feel that you can see perfectly fine, a sight test can identify underlying health conditions and eye conditions, including those that are more common as we get older.

If you’re due your regular sight test, it’s time to pop into your local opticians!




 
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