How Aging Impacts Our Eyes


Eyesight is one of many things that changes as we age.

Age is the biggest risk factor for many chronic or sight-threatening eye conditions, which is why it’s so important to be informed and able to recognize the signs of age-related vision loss. It’s also important to know what we can do to keep our eyes healthy as we get older!

Age and Sight-Threatening Conditions

Eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and macular degeneration all become more likely the older we get. Many of them can be delayed, treated, managed, or in some cases reversed, and science and technology are constantly improving, so the prognoses for conditions like these could improve in the coming years. No matter what, early detection is critical, which is why getting regular eye exams is so important.

Aging and Typical Minor Changes to Vision

On a less dramatic note, aging can also have a lot of smaller effects on our eyesight. They aren’t as serious, but they can certainly take getting used to, so let’s briefly go over the most common ones:

  • Reduced tear production. Our tears are important for keeping our eyes healthy and protected from external irritants. Make sure to talk to the eye doctor if you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms.
  • Difficulty seeing small print and fine details. The majority of us will need bifocals or reading glasses as we get older thanks to the lenses in our eyes becoming less flexible. This is called presbyopia.
  • Sensitivity to glare. This can be a particularly distracting issue while driving thanks to the light bouncing off other cars. Just one more reason to get a pair of polarized sunglasses!
  • Needing more light to see. As we get older, we tend to need more light to see clearly, so your life might start to include more reading lamps!
  • Changes to color perception. The lens of the eye can sometimes become discolored, affecting the colors we see.

What You Can Do for Your Eyesight

Going to the eye doctor regularly is one way to help maintain healthy vision into old age, but there’s plenty more. Living a healthy lifestyle can have a huge impact, including staying active, eating healthy foods, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking. It’s also important to wear UV-blocking sunglasses while out in the sun, because UV damage to our eyes is cumulative over the course of our lives.

Lifelong Vision Health Is the Goal!

The importance of yearly eye exams for patients who are getting older cannot be overstated. If you aren’t sure when you had your last appointment, how about restarting the clock now by scheduling your next one for this week? There’s no time like the present to start priorizing your vision health!

We love our patients!

Top image by Flickr user Dennis Yang used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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