Eyes & Aging

"Why is my vision getting worse?"

This is a common question, asked by many at any given point in their lives, but particularly as they get older. Even those who enjoyed perfect vision growing up and during their early adulthood find the glasses-free lifestyle does not last as we age into our forties, fifties, and sixties.

So, what is happening? Why do our eyes – and our vision – change so drastically as we age?

For many, by the time we hit the age of forty, we start noticing signs of deteriorating vision. The most common complaint is a decreased ability to read or work up close. Letters on newsprint blurs, the contrast between like-colours diminishes until everything starts to blend into a haze.

What Happens To Our Eyes As We Age?

Eye Anatony - Eyes & Aging - 360 EyecareAs we age, the translucent lens responsible for helping us with near vision becomes cloudy and stiffens, limiting its natural elasticity. Without that elasticity, the lens cannot accommodate well for a near focal point, and with the growing opacity less light is able to travel through the eye to reach the retina and our vision becomes hazy.

The photoreceptor cells located within the retina, commonly known as cones and rods, become less receptive to light as we age. This means that our ability to differentiate between colours gradually weakens, and colours like blues, turquoise, and greens become harder to tell apart.

Our pupils become less responsive as well, taking a longer time to adjust to changing light levels. This means that we become more sensitive to bright lights and glares, but also struggle in low light conditions to get the light we need to see things clearly.

Finally, the glands and mechanisms within our eyelids that help to produce and refresh our tears slow their production rate. With less tears our eyes get drier, faster, and we have more frequent bouts of eye irritation and fluctuating vision.

What Steps Can I Take to Fix These Changes?

There is nothing that stops the progression of age, but there are several simple solutions and devices that can help address the needs of your changing eyes.

Sometimes it is as simple as incorporating a good pair of sunglasses into your eyewear collection, as sunglasses help to reduce outside glare. Choosing a high quality anti-reflective coating for clear lenses is also a good solution for glare sensitivity. Ensuring that your home environment has ample lighting will help in the evening as the natural light we get from the sun goes away.

Prescription reading glasses can help provide the extra magnification that your eyes are no longer able to produce, helping you reconnect with hobbies that require near focus, such as reading, drawing, or knitting. The required magnification we need will increase over time, and what worked a year ago may no longer work as well today.

Therefore, it is important to continue to see your Optometrist regularly. They will be able to assess the strength of reading glasses you require, fit you with speciality lenses available for driving in low light conditions, or recommend eye drops to help combat age-related dry eye conditions.

To speak with one of our Optometrists about what vision options are right for you and your needs, please reach out to any of our locations to book your eye exam: 360 Eyecare – Rosedale or 360 Eyecare – Beaches.