With the aging baby boomer generation, the prevalence of eye diseases is on the rise. According to the World Health Organisation, there are about 285 million people around the world who are visually impaired. Prospective studies suggest that there will be around 800,000 people in Australia over the age of 40 with low vision.
Age and vision
Every cell in our body has a life of its own and deteriorates with time and our eyes are no exception. With age, the changes that our eyes go through, may not necessarily have an impeding effect on our quality of life like presbyopia, whereas other diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy are more serious eye conditions that can severely affect one’s quality of life. With time, the white of our eye, “sclera” can start yellowing or browning due to the exposure to ultraviolet radiation and deposition of cholesterol on the outer most later of the eye, “conjunctiva”. Additionally, over time, the conjunctiva starts thinning and eventually results in dry eyes.
Dry eyes is an irritable eye condition in which the production of tears and mucous on the conjunctiva is much below the normal range. Thirdly, unless we train our muscles, the test of time also takes a toll on our muscles. Our ocular muscles also loose strength over time. This means that the muscles that were responsible for shaping our lens may not function optimally anymore. It has also been speculated that with time, the lens hardens, and in conjunction with the reduced tone of ocular muscles, can cause presbyopia. This is why you see a lot of the oldies wear glasses.
What to expect
In your 60s, age related eye diseases might become rampant and you must undergo physical examinations as well as regular eye exams in order to determine any underlying conditions that might be causing the vision impairment such as diabetes. Your ability to see in dim lights might also decrease so make sure that you read in bright lights only. Those who are in their 70s and 80s can develop cataracts and a cataract surgery by experienced eye surgeons is the only option for treating cataracts successfully. Additionally, your colour vision may also decline in old age and your eye doctor will probably recommend lenses or eyewear for contrast vision.