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How Vision Changes As We Age

Author: Janet Camilleri
by Janet Camilleri
Posted: Dec 05, 2018

There’s no two ways about it: no matter how much we resist the ageing process, by the time we reach the age of fifty there can be no denying that our bodies aren't quite what they used to be!

And we're not just talking about grey hair, weight gain, fine lines and wrinkles.

When it comes to our eyes, most of us notice changes to our vision somewhere between the ages of 40 and 50. The lens in the eye becomes less flexible, and aging also affects the muscles around the lens making it harder to focus - causing us to joke that books and magazines suddenly seem to be printed in a much smaller font, or that we need longer arms to hold our book at a comfortable distance!

If you are already wearing glasses for short-sightedness, you may suddenly find you need to take them off in order to check your phone or read a menu.

These are signs of Presbyopia - literally "ageing eyes" in latin. A quick trip to your local optometrist for glasses may be in order, although bear in mind the prescription will likely need to be updated regularly as this deterioration continues up until about the age of 65, according to Optometry Australia.

In addition to presbyopia, other vision problems which can develop with age include:

  • Loss of peripheral vision - limiting your field of vision which can affect your driving;
  • Reduced colour vision - which particularly seems to make blues seem duller;
  • Dry eye syndrome; and
  • Spots and floaters. While these are common, if they are accompanied by flashes of light, it could indicate a detached retina so seek medical help urgently.
  • While all of these complaints may lead you to book an appointment with your eye doctor, it's important to visit your optometrist for regular eye examinations even if you aren't experiencing any problems with your vision. With age comes an increased risk of developing certain eye conditions which have no obvious symptoms, yet can endanger your sight. These include:

  • Macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in Australia;
  • Cataracts – the most common eye disease in Australia;
  • Diabetic retinopathy; and
  • Glaucoma.
  • As with most medical conditions, the earlier they are picked up, the better the outcome. When it comes to your vision, a comprehensive eye examination is the best way to ensure that problems are detected and treated as early as possible, in order to protect your sight.

    At time of writing, permanent residents in Australia are entitled to Medicare rebates for an annual eye examination once they have passed the age of 65, up from once every 3 years for younger people.

    You can expect your appointment to take approximately 30 to 45 minutes, to allow time for your optometrist to perform all the necessary tests to thoroughly assess your visual efficiency and eye health.

    Less than an hour a year is really not a lot in the general scheme of things. Your eyesight is a precious gift, so it is well worth finding the time to prioritise an annual appointment – especially when the federal government is so generously footing most of the bill!

    About the Author

    Janet Camilleri loves writing for the web. In addition to her work in content marketing, she also blogs as the Middle Aged Mama, about learning to fashion a new life now that her kids are grown.

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    Author: Janet Camilleri

    Janet Camilleri

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