AGE AND YOUR VISION

Learn how your age can affect your vision

When you consider that 80 percent of the information we take in on a daily basis is through our eyesight, and that one in two of us suffers from vision problems, it becomes clear that looking after our eyes should be a top priority.

Eyes are our windows to the world. We’re susceptible to some common vision problems at birth and during early childhood, but of course adulthood and ageing will inevitably lead to other issues.

Vision problems happen due to a combination of hereditary and environmental factors, such as exposure to the sun’s damaging UV rays, which can damage the eyes. There are ways to correct these problems during the different stages of our lives, including wearing prescription glasses, or taking preventative measures.

Vision problems change as we age, so here are a few common issues we face at different ages.

Vision Problems for Children (0-12 years old)

A baby’s vision develops rapidly after birth, and it only takes three days before a newborn can focus their vision. After six weeks, the child’s vision will still be blurry but they should be able to recognise their parents. Premature babies may take a little longer for their vision to develop, but will catch up quite quickly, meaning there is no need to worry.

As well as regular checkups from a doctor, professionals recommend that a child receives an eye examination six months after birth. This check up assesses whether they’re able to follow objects, for instance, and that they don’t squint. If a doctor suspects anything during a routine check-up before the six-month appointment, it’s likely they’ll refer your child to a pediatric ophthalmologist.

It’s also recommended that parents are vigilant, ensuring they’re protecting their child from UV rays throughout their childhood. If your child doesn’t seem interested in new objects such as a new toy, it might be because they can’t see it in detail. If you think this is the case, take them to the doctor.

Other things to look out for at this stage are “red eye” in photographs, which is healthy, and because their eyes are correctly refracting light. However, photos that show whiteness might be cause for concern and indicate a condition called leukocoria. Again, a child should be taken to a doctor if anything is suspected.

Common Vision Problems for Children

Hyperopia

What is it? Also known as farsightedness happens when objects appear blurry at close distance. This condition is common in children and becomes noticeable between five-to-10 years of age.

Treatment: This is usually treated through prescription glasses or contact lenses if it persists.

Myopia

What is it? Another common condition in children, short-sightedness also starts to be noticeable between five-to-10 years of age when anything at distance looks blurry.

Treatment: This is easily treated through prescription glasses or contact lenses if it persists.

Conjunctivitis

What is it? Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva that results in redness in the eye causing irritation.

Treatment: Generally speaking, it clears up on its own after a week or two. Use a warm compress during this period; otherwise speak to a doctor if the problem continues.

Less-common Vision Problems for Children

Strabismus

What is it? Strabismus happens when the eyes aren’t aligned or if one starts wandering.

Treatment: Prescription glasses, eye patches, eye drops, or eye-muscle surgery.

Amblyopia

Symptoms: Poor vision in one or both eyes. It is also known as “lazy eye”.

Treatment: Prescription eyeglasses, eye drops, vision therapy, or patching the strong eye to strengthen the weaker eye. If not treated immediately, the development of the eyes can slow or stop altogether.

Vision Problems for Teenagers and Young Adults (13 to 39 years old)

A child's vision begins to stabilise during their teenage years. However, be wary that myopia can worsen during puberty. If there is a change in a child’s vision, an initial checkup is recommended. If a professional diagnoses anything — such as short-sightedness and prescribes prescription glasses — regular checkups should be arranged thereafter.

Teenagers should be vigilant during this period, taking regular breaks from looking at computer and TV screens, while also avoiding the sun’s harmful UV rays by wearing protective lenses when necessary.

As we grow older, our activities change, but we may still suffer from similar vision problems, just with a different root cause. Working in front of a computer screen all day or working outdoors can also have a negative impact on our vision.

Common vision problems for teenagers and young adults

Astigmatism

Symptoms: Astigmatism is a common condition causing blurred vision.

Treatment: No treatment is required where the symptoms are mild, while prescription glasses or contact lenses are the best treatment options without opting to go into surgery.

Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS

Symptoms: CVS causes eye fatigue or strain due to overexposure to digital screens.

Treatment: Eyeglasses with special lenses that block out harmful blue light.

Exposure to UV light

Symptoms: Active teens or adults may be exposed to harmful UV rays, which can damage the eyes and cause discomfort like eye strain or blurry vision.

Treatment: UV protective clear lenses, photochromic or adaptive lenses as well sunglasses can protect eyes against harmful UV rays.
 

Vision Problems for Older Adults (40-59 years old)

No two people have the same eyesight, so it’s recommended that all adults have regular eye examinations after the age of 40 to detect presbyopia, which is common during middle and old age. Hormonal changes altering the cornea during pregnancy can cause a woman’s vision to change during this period, while it’s also recommended that professional advice is taken consistently throughout adulthood, and before taking part in certain sports.

Common Eyecare Vision Problems for Adults

Presbyopia

Symptoms: Troubles focusing on objects both far and close after a reduction in the eyes’ elasticity.

Treatment: Progressive lenses, also known as multifocal lenses are the best non-invasive solution available.

Age-related Macular Degeneration or AMD

Symptoms: AMD causes blurred vision and sensitivity to light.

Treatment: There aren’t many treatments for AMD, but diet and eye exercises can slow the progress of the disease. Adding UV protection on the lenses of your glasses can prevent damage from the sun to slow down progression of the disease.

Glaucoma

What is it? Glaucoma is often a hereditary condition that causes pressure build up in the eye and can ultimately lead to blindness.

Treatment: Surgery with eyeglasses often required post surgery for clear vision.

Over 60s

Presbyopia slows down during old age. However, during this stage of life, there are eye diseases such as cataracts that can lead to an almost complete loss of sight. Exposure to light also has an effect on vision, while the eyes become fatigued, perception to colour reduces, and peripheral vision can also reduce.
 

Common Vision Problems for Over 60s

Cataracts

Symptoms: A clouding of the eye leading to reduced vision in one or both eyes.

Treatment: New glasses, anti-glare sunglasses or magnifying lenses, a sunscreen when outdoors, or introducing brighter lighting. Cataracts surgery removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with a new clear one.

The elderly are also likely to suffer from common eye conditions that they may have avoided as teens or as younger adults. AMD, glaucoma, presbyopia and others are common amongst those over 60 years old.

Is your age affecting your vision?

Visit your nearest optician for a complete eye examination today

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