Normal Vision Development in Adults Over 60

As we age, even people who do not have age-related eye diseases and who have good visual acuity may experience vision changes. Presbyopia, which begins in the late 30s or early 40s, usually continues to increase over time.

Seniors may also notice:

  • Eyes take longer to adjust and focus or don’t adjust very well when a person moves from a well-lit area to a poorly-lit area, or the other way around.

Such problems in adjusting to light and dark can make driving more difficult, especially at night or in the rain. Driving may be even more challenging for people with eye diseases that reduce their peripheral (side) vision or increase their sensitivity to glare. To be on the safe side, the National Traffic Safety Administration recommends that elders take a driving course designed specifically for seniors, drive during daylight hours, reduce speed and be extra-cautious at intersections.

  • It may become more difficult to distinguish an image from its background when subtle gradations of tone are involved. This is called loss of “contrast sensitivity.”
  • Interestingly, research has found that the eye’s “rod” cells, responsible for the visual functions described above, are more likely to degrade with age than the “cone” cells, which are responsible for visual acuity and color vision. The health of rod cells is also more dependent on environmental factors such as nutrition, smoking, and excessive sun exposure, all of which we can control or choose, to some extent.
 

Tips for Eye Health in Adults Over 60

 

Women’s Higher Risk for Some Eye Diseases

Women are more likely than men to have glaucoma and women are also more likely to be visually impaired or blind due to glaucoma. Also, women are 24 percent less likely to be treated for glaucoma. Cataract is somewhat more common in women, as well.

Women should be sure to follow the Academy’s screening guidelines and adhere to their ophthalmologist’s follow-up appointment recommendations and treatment plans.

Low Vision

The term low vision describes vision loss that makes daily tasks difficult. Normal aging of the eye does not lead to low vision; it is a result of eye diseases, injuries or both. Low vision symptoms include loss of central and/or peripheral (side) vision, blurred or hazy vision or night blindness.

A person may have trouble recognizing faces, reading, driving and shopping. If you experience any of these problems, it is important to see your ophthalmologist, who will check for and treat any underlying conditions and advise on low vision resources and low vision aids and devices to help with reading and other daily tasks. Most people with low vision need brighter lighting in their living areas.

Avoid Falls and Related Eye Injuries

About half of all eye injuries occur in or around the home, most often during improvement projects (44 percent). The good news is that nearly all eye injuries can be prevented by using protective eyewear, so every household needs to have at least one pair of certified safety glasses on hand.

It’s also important to reduce the risk of falls, which become more likely as we age, due to changes in vision and balance. Consider taking these safety steps around the home to diminish the risks of injuring your eyes:

  • Make sure that rugs and shower/bath/tub mats are slip-proof.
  • Secure railings so that they are not loose.
  • Cushion sharp corners and edges of furnishings and home fixtures.
  • Systemic health problems
 

Systemic health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes that may be diagnosed or become more problematic in midlife can also affect eye health. One warning sign of both high blood pressure and diabetes is when the ability to see clearly changes frequently. Be sure to keep your ophthalmologist informed about your health conditions and use of medications and nutritional supplements, as well as your exercise, eating, sleeping and other lifestyle choices.

Exercise

Our eyes need good blood circulation and oxygen intake, and both are stimulated by regular exercise. Regular exercise also helps keep our weight in the normal range, which reduces the risk of diabetes and of diabetic retinopathy. Gentler exercise, including walking, yoga, tai chi, or stretching and breathing, can also be effective ways to keep healthy. Remember to use sun safety and protective eyewear when enjoying sports and recreation.

Sleep

As we sleep, our eyes enjoy continuous lubrication. Also during sleep the eyes clear out irritants such as dust, allergens, or smoke that may have accumulated during the day.

Some research suggests that light-sensitive cells in the eye are important to our ability to regulate our wake-sleep cycles. This becomes more crucial as we age, when more people have problems with insomnia. While it’s important that we protect our eyes from over-exposure to UV light, our eyes also need exposure to some natural light every day to help maintain normal sleep-wake cycles.

 

Eye health tips for older people

Because our eyesight changes as we get older, almost all of us will need to wear glasses or contact lenses by the time we’re 65.

If you have regular eye tests, wear the right lenses and look after your eyes, there’s a better chance your sight will remain clear.

Have regular eye tests

An eye test is not just good for checking whether your glasses are up-to-date. It’s also a vital check on the health of your eyes.

An eye test can pick up eye diseases, such as glaucoma and cataracts, as well as general health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

The good news is that if you’re 60 or over, you can have a free NHS eye (sight) test as often as you need one.

  • This is normally every year but may be more often in certain circumstances.
  • Your optometrist will be able to advise you as to how often you need to be seen.
  • If you can’t leave your home because of illness or disability, you can have an NHS eye test at home.
  • Contact Templeman Opticians on 01268 777729 to find out if they can visit you at home,

to find out more about eye tests.

Wear the right lenses

An eye test will establish whether you need a different prescription for your glasses or contact lenses.

It’s important to wear the correct prescription lenses. This will improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of accidents such as falls.

You may be entitled to help with the cost of NHS glasses or contact lenses, so ask your optician about this.

How to keep your eyes healthy

As well as having regular eye tests and wearing the correct glasses, there are several things to keep your eyes as healthy as possible.

Eat well

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for your eyes.

Eating plenty of vegetables and fruit will benefit your overall health and may help protect against some conditions, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Wear sunglasses

Strong sunlight can damage your eyes and may increase your risk of cataracts. Wear sunglasses or contact lenses with a built-in UV filter to protect your eyes from harmful rays.

Quit smoking

Smoking can increase your chances of developing conditions such as cataracts and AMD.

Stay a healthy weight

Being overweight increases your risk of diabetes, which can lead to sight loss.

Use good lighting

  • To see well, your eyes need 3 times as much light when you’re 60 as they did when you were 20.
  • Increase the daylight in your home by keeping windows clean and curtains pulled back.
  • Make sure you have good electric lighting, too, especially at the top and bottom of stairs so you can see the steps clearly.
  • For reading or close work, use a direct light from a flexible table lamp, positioned so the light isn’t reflected by the page and causing glare.

Exercise

Good circulation and oxygen intake are important for our eye health. Both of these are stimulated by regular exercise.

Sleep well

As you sleep, your eyes are continuously lubricated and irritants, such as dust or smoke, that may have accumulated during the day are cleared out.

 

 

Eye problems as you get older

As you get older, you become more likely to get certain eye problems.

 

Difficulty reading

Eye muscles start to weaken from the age of 45. It’s a natural ageing process of the eye that happens to us all.

By the time you’re 60, you’ll probably need separate reading glasses or an addition to your prescription lenses (bifocals or varifocals).

 

Floaters

Floaters, which are tiny specks or spots that float across your vision, are normally harmless.

If they persist, see an optician as they may be a sign of an underlying health condition.

 

Cataracts

Easily detected in an eye test, this gradual clouding of the eye’s lens is extremely common in over-60s. A simple operation can restore sight.

 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is related to an increase in pressure in the eye that leads to damage of the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain.

Left untreated, glaucoma leads to tunnel vision and, ultimately, blindness.

But if it’s detected early enough, these complications can usually be avoided with eye drops.

 

Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration is a disease of the retina caused by ageing. The retina is the nerve tissue lining the back of your eye.

There are 2 types of macular degeneration.

  1. The first type, called dry macular degeneration, gets worse very slowly.
  2. The other type gets worse very quickly. This needs to be seen as an emergency in a hospital eye unit for prompt treatment.