Managing your eye health as you age

Did the writing on the menu suddenly shrink? Blame your aging eyes!

Just like your skin ages with time, so too will your eyes. In fact, from around age 40 onwards, it’s entirely normal to experience a few changes in your vision.

The good news: most of these changes happen to everybody, and they can usually be corrected and managed with early detection. The bad? Some eye conditions are asymptomatic, meaning changes can happen so slightly that they often miss your attention.

Four eye conditions that are common with age

1. Presbyopia

So, to answer the above question: no, the writing didn’t shrink! But the lens of your eye did get less flexible with age, which can make it harder for you to focus on objects up close. People who first experience presbyopia usually find they have to hold things further away to see them clearly.

Presbyopia is a normal trait of aging that usually becomes more noticeable between the ages of 40 and 50. While this condition cannot be prevented or cured, a properly prescribed pair of corrective lenses from your optometrist can make your life much easier.

2. Cataracts

If your world is starting to look a bit cloudy, or you are becoming increasingly glare sensitive, then you may be experiencing cataracts in one or both eyes. Having a cataract is like looking through a dirty window, and it’s also a leading cause of vision impairment. In Australia, over 700,000 people are living with cataracts. That’s why it’s important to recognise the signs so you can schedule an appointment with your optometrist the moment you begin to notice changes in your vision.

3. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a painless, progressive eye disease that destroys central vision. It’s the most common macular disease, with about 1.4 million Australians having signs of AMD. It’s important to stress that early detection of AMD is crucial to saving sight. 

Unlike the other conditions listed above, AMD is not a normal or inevitable consequence of aging. While there is no cure for it, a macular-friendly diet and a few lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and quitting smoking, are proven to delay onset and progression of this disease.

4. Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy can occur in people with diabetes, and it’s caused by damage to the blood vessels that nourish the retina which is the seeing part of the eye. Anyone with diabetes is at risk of developing retinopathy and people with diabetes (type 1 or type 2) are 25 times more likely to experience vision loss than people without diabetes.

Like many eye diseases, you may not know you have diabetic retinopathy because it shows no symptoms until it is too late. If you have diabetes, it is crucial that you visit your optometrist at least once a year.

Tips to preserve your eye health as you age

While you can’t prevent your eyes from aging, you can slow age-related damage by getting on top of your eye health early. Check out these tips to keep your eyes healthy as you age:

  • Have regular eye examinations. An eye test 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 and it can pick up various eye conditions and diseases such as the ones listed above. The earlier serious eye conditions are detected, the greater the chance of successful treatment and management and retaining good vision.
  • Block that harmful UV! Do you wear your sunglasses during Winter too? As Aussies, we’re exposed to some of the highest levels of UV in the world year-round. So, before you head outside, make sure to go to your nearest optical store to get a pair of protective sunglasses (we recommend getting a pair that is at least category 3).
  • Stop smoking. Smoking can accelerate the aging process in the eye. Quitting this habit at any age – even later in life – can significantly reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration.
  • Keep a healthy diet. Check out these top ten foods that can improve your eye health!

The absolute best way to ensure you stay on top of your eye health is to have regular eye examinations with your optometrist. You can use our find an optometrist tool to determine your local optometrist and book an appointment today.

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