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The Aging Eye

“White hairs, crows feet, loss of detail, and glasses for reading! Aging is horrible!”

Indeed, aging causes a variety of problems related to the visual system. However, aging is a common process that will eventually impact all of us, and is not always synonymous with disease! In fact, although aging can increase one’s vulnerability to disease, it is possible to help prevent some conditions early on.

“Aging is cumulative, universal, progressive, inherent”


You might find that with old age, you cannot read at close distances like you used to. This is a normal condition, called presbyopia, that will affect everyone after the age of 40. In presbyopia, the crystalline lens in your eye begins to lose its ability to change shape to focus on close objects, resulting in a reduced ability to read up close, and tiredness of the eyes when focusing on near objects for prolonged times. Presbyopia happens to everyone and cannot be prevented as such!

However, there are ways to help manage presbyopia! A pair of reading glasses can beneficially help with vision. There are different types of reading glasses available such as single vision lenses, bifocal and multifocal specialised lenses with near and distance portions to help with seeing at different distances.

Your eyes may also get worse with presbyopia as the crystalline lens continues to age. This will mean that an update of the prescription is needed every few years to ensure optimal vision.


A cataract occurs when the crystalline lens in your eye becomes foggy. A normally transparent lens is responsible for the transmission and focussing of light to the back of your eye, the retina. A cataract lens is painless and the fogging may affect any part of the lens. In fact, all human beings will have a cataract in old age!

Symptoms for cataracts usually begin at around 60 years of age. They may include:

A lessened reliance for reading glasses in old age

  • Glare or light sensitivity
  • Inability to see fine detail, blurriness
  • Poor night vision
  • Change in colour perception

A cataract is progressive. This means that it will get worse over time. It may or may not impact your day-to-day activities and may impact you if you are looking to revise your driver’s licence. This is why it is important to discuss with your optometrist the management options. Surgical options are also possible to remove the foggy lens altogether to replace it with a new one!

Cataracts may sound daunting, but Jeanne Clament, the world oldest person at 122 years and 164 days, also had cataracts too! She decided not to have surgery, but it comes to show that old age doesn’t mean life stops!

Having an eye examination every year with your optometrist is important for the screening, and tracking of progression of any condition that may affect vision in old age. It is also important that you contact your optometrist immediately if you observe any symptoms or change in your sight. Medication and systemic illness may also pose as risk factors for a number of diseases in old age.

To see one of our optometrists for an eye examination or to find out more, contact us on 9728 7288.

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