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About your eyes

How the eye changes with age

  • At around age 45, our eyes let us know they’re starting to grow old – we say “our arms are not long enough” and we get reading glasses to correct the presbyopia. Every four years or so, you may need stronger reading glasses. This tend to level off by age 70.
  • In your 50’s and 60’s, several things can happen. You may develop glaucoma, a rise in the water pressure inside the eye. Adult-onset diabetes may occur that affects the retinal blood vessels; it also causes cataract formation.
  • At age 50, you may also start to notice “floaters,” black cobwebs and spots in your vision. These may disappear or get less noticeable in your 70’s and 80’s.
  • By age 55, the natural lens inside your eye begins to turn yellow, colours are not as bright, and vision at night is not to good. Later lights may appear as a star-burst. Even later, the vision gets dimmer; this is how a cataract develops.
  • In the late 60’s, you may progressively lose your vision, only to be told that it is not due to cataracts or glaucoma. It is usually due to macular degeneration of the retina, a form of hardening of the arteries that permanently scars the back of the eye next to the optic nerve. This is the most frequent cause of blindness in the elderly. Usually there is no treatment for it; however, there is a rare “wet” form that can be diagnosed by fluorescein angiography and treated with a laser.