Ageing impacts our entire bodies, including the health of our eyes. The prevalence of vision impairment increases with age, so as we get older, we are more likely to experience vision problems. Also, some of these conditions develop gradually over time, without major signs. Therefore, it’s even more important to learn about the main symptoms of the most common vision problems that occur in the elderly.
This way, you can react promptly and take adequate steps to protect your eyesight. In certain cases, seeking immediate medical attention can help you prevent further deterioration or counteract the issue.
So, let’s take a deeper look into the seven signs of eye problems that tend to develop as we age.
1. Worsening Eyesight
As we grow old, it sometimes gets harder to see clearly at close distances. The loss of the ability to focus on nearby objects is part of the natural ageing process of the eye. So, age-related farsightedness, also called presbyopia, is a completely natural process.
There are effective treatments available for treating farsightedness. Laser corrective eye surgery can improve your vision for years after the procedure, and it only takes around 15 minutes per eye.
It may be useful to know that the difference between LASIK and LASEK procedures means patients who aren’t great candidates for the former can undergo LASEK treatment.
And you may be relieved to know that both treatments are extremely successful, and both of them are being used to correct not only farsightedness but also nearsightedness and astigmatism.
Laser eye surgery is available on the NHS in some circumstances, such as for conditions that will lead to loss of vision without treatment. However, if you want laser eye surgery to correct short-sightedness or long-sightedness, you'll need to pay privately.
2. Eye Floaters and Spots
Tiny spots in your vision that drift around in your field of vision are quite common. Although they can be annoying, they are usually related to a benign condition called vitreous detachment. It’s age-related and not cause for alarm most of the time.
However, there are some cases when you should seek medical attention immediately.
The sudden appearance of these symptoms, a shower of floaters and spots, can indicate a tear or detachment of the retina. It is a sight-threatening condition, so don’t delay seeing an eye care specialist.
3. Blurred Vision and Sensitivity to Light
These vision changes can be caused by a cataract, which is a clouding of the eye’s lens. They can start small and have little effect on your vision at first. Since the symptoms can be mild and hardly noticeable during the early stages, regular eye exams are highly advised.
Also, cataracts tend to worsen over time, so to prevent your vision from further deteriorating, cataract surgery is often required. Luckily, the treatment for this condition is widely available - just make sure not to postpone the surgery too long as it increases the chances of complications.
4. Floaters Flickering Through the Field of Vision
This can be one of the main symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease that is a common complication of diabetes. It has a high prevalence in the United Kingdom, and it’s a leading cause of blindness in adults.
Fluctuating vision, impaired colour vision, or vision loss can also be signs of diabetic retinopathy.
Proper management of diabetes reduces the risk of diabetic retinopathy, while early diagnosis and timely treatment decrease the risk of vision loss.
5. Blind Spot in One Eye
Seeing a blind spot in one eye suddenly can indicate an eye condition known as a macular hole. It is a small break in the central area of the retina that affects your central vision without impacting your peripheral (side) vision.
If you are 60 or over, you are at a greater risk of macular hole formation, especially if you are a woman.
The most common treatment, vitrectomy, has a significant success rate. It can repair some or most of the patient’s lost vision.
If the macular hole is small and doesn’t affect your vision seriously, regular eye examinations are usually recommended. They allow tracking of the macular hole progression, so your doctor can catch any problems early on.
6. Irritated, Red Eyes
Dry eyes can cause redness, irritation, and a “scratchy” feeling in your eyes. They can occur at any age, but the chronic lack of lubrication and moisture on the eye’s surface is more frequent in people over 50. Although symptoms of dry eyes can be severe, this condition usually isn’t sight-threatening.
It’s best to consult a medical professional, especially if the symptoms are causing you great discomfort. The first step in dry eye treatment usually involves artificial tears.
7. Narrowed Field of Vision
If your field of view is narrowing and your ability to see objects off to the sides is reducing, it can be a sign of glaucoma. Unfortunately, without proper treatment, this condition will continue to deteriorate your eyesight and lead to the so-called “tunnel vision” or, in the worst-case scenario, blindness.
This disease damages the eye’s optic nerve, so an early diagnosis and treatment are necessary to avoid serious vision loss.
Being familiar with the signs of age-related eye problems is important to recognize their symptoms in case they occur. This will help you keep your eyes as healthy as possible, for as long as possible.
About the Author
Stephen Jones is a freelance writer and a new father. Stephen enjoys writing about health, food, nutrition, and children’s health for other parents. “Freelance writing has always been my passion so I combined the two and hopes to be able to share my passion with others!”