AGE AND YOUR VISION
Learn how your age can affect your vision
When you consider that 80% of the information we absorb on a daily basis is through our eyes, yet 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 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. 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. After six weeks, the child’s vision is still underdeveloped 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, if there is no other complication in the eye. At 6 months, the baby’s visual system is fully developed and they can see as clearly as an adult with normal vision.
As well as regular check-ups 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. They should be screened for squint as well. 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 paediatric ophthalmologist.
It’s also recommended that parents should be vigilant, ensuring they’re protecting their child from UV rays throughout their childhood. Because UV exposure can cause cumulative damage to the eyes. If there are any concerns about vision development then it is strongly recommended that a doctor’s advice is sought. Even though the child cannot read letters on the chart, there are other ways to assess vision in specialised clinics.
Common Vision Problems for Children
What is it? Also known as farsightedness it happens when objects appear blurry at close distance. This condition is common in children but high levels of farsightedness can lead to crossed eyes. Uncorrected high level of farsightedness in children can lead to lazy eye.
Treatment: This is usually treated with prescription glasses or contact lenses.
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 a distance looks blurry.
Treatment: This is easily treated with prescription glasses or contact lenses.
What is it? Conjunctivitis is an inflammation that causes redness to the eye. If conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria or virus, it can be easily spread to other members of the family.
Treatment: Seek medical advice.
Less-common Vision Problems for Children
What is it? Strabismus is often referred to as “crossed eyes” or a wandering eye. Instead of being aligned and looking at an object together, one eye may be pointing inwards or outwards.
Treatment: Prescription glasses, eye patches, eye drops, or eye-muscle surgery.
Symptoms: A common condition where one eye develops less than expected. This could be caused by many factors - the most common being poor focusing in one eye only. As the other eye is normal the child does not show any particular signs unless the good eye is covered. The under-developed vision is often referred to as a “lazy eye”.
Treatment: Prescription glasses, 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)
Whilst the visual system (the brain & the eyes) develops during the first 6 months, the growth of the eye usually occurs between the first year of age to 18 years old. An increasingly common problem called myopia or short-sightedness can develop during this time. This is thought to be caused by the eyeball growing too large for the focusing and so distance vision becomes blurry (note: the eye will not appear large to parents as the increase in size might only be a fraction of a mm). Short-sightedness will typically increase during puberty.
If there is a change in a child’s vision, an eye test is recommended. If a professional diagnoses anything — such as short-sightedness and prescribes prescription glasses — regular checkups should be arranged thereafter. Look out for squinting, a common facial appearance that occurs when short-sightedness develops.
Children should be vigilant when doing near work. They should take regular breaks from prolonged near work such as looking at computer and TV screens. They should also wear protective lenses to prevent harmful UV rays from the sun from damaging the eyes 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
Symptoms: Astigmatism is a common condition causing blurred vision. It can occur along with long and short-sightedness.
Treatment: No treatment is required where the symptoms are mild, while prescription glasses or contact lenses are the best treatment options otherwise.
Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS
Symptoms: CVS causes eye fatigue or strain due to overexposure to digital screens.
Treatment: Glasses with special lenses that block out harmful blue light.
Exposure to UV light
Vision Problems for Older Adults (40-50 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. It’s also recommended that professional advice is taken consistently throughout adulthood, and before taking part in certain sports.
Common Vision Problems for Adults
Symptoms: Difficulty focusing on details up close (smartphone, books, etc.). The person finds themselves holding material further and further away in order for them to see clearly. Presbyopia is the most common eye concern as it develops in everyone usually between 40-50 years of age.
Treatment: Progressive lenses, also known as multi-focal lenses are the best non-invasive solution available.
Vision Problems For People Over 50
As the eye ages, vision can be affected by eye diseases that can occur behind the eye. Older adults should always be vigilant with their vision by having regular eye examinations and responding to any changes in their vision immediately by seeking medical advice.
Common Vision Problems for Over 50's
Symptoms: A clouding of vision over time that can occur in one or both eyes. Many describe it like looking through a fog- fine details and the richness of colours can be diminished.
Treatment: At first, glasses can improve vision, but as cataracts develop, surgery is usually recommended. Cataracts surgery removes the cloudy lens of the eye and replaces it with an artificial clear one. Cataract surgery is the most common surgery performed on the eye today.
Age-related Macular Degeneration or AMD
Symptoms: AMD causes blurry and distorted central vision, so details at any distance cannot be seen. Central vision refers to your line of sight.
Treatment: Urgent assessment by an eye specialist is needed to manage this complex eye disease. The dry AMD is usually not treated, but must be monitored regularly by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. In this case, eating colourful fruits and vegetables and protection against UV with lenses may help to slow down the progression. The wet AMD however, needs urgent medical treatment.
Symptoms: Glaucoma is often a hereditary condition that causes in most cases, a higher than expected pressure in the eye. If left untreated it can, over many years, lead to blindness.
Treatment: Surgery is the best option to treat glaucoma. Glasses are often required post-surgery for clear vision.
Is your age affecting your vision?
Visit your nearest optometrist for a complete eye examination today.