What are common age-related eye problems and what are the symptoms?
What are common age-related eye problems and what are their symptoms? The three commonest problems are, cataract, glaucoma and macular degeneration. These conditions are not to be confused with the normal ageing process in which your glasses prescription changes with time and age, usually in your 50s. For that, you should go to your local optician to get your glasses checked, or your eyesight checked.
Age-related eye problems: Cataract
Cataract is a painless disease in which the lens inside your eye, which is usually clear and allows you to focus on things, gradually becomes cloudy over time with age. The lens can also become stiff which results in your prescription becoming more short-sighted.
The symptoms of cataract can vary and include a gradual perception that your vision is not quite as focused as it used to be, i.e. it is blurred. This difficulty might present itself more with distance and/or with reading. Sometimes patients describe glare when they are driving at night. On occasion, our community optometric colleagues refer patients to us whose glasses prescriptions have become quite markedly short-sighted due to cataract development.
Age-related eye problems: Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a condition that comes on with older age as well. It is a disease that can be diagnosed in your 40s although it is more likely to develop in later life. That is why we recommend, that if you have a first-degree member of your family with glaucoma, you should seek an annual sight test with your community optometrist from your 40s.
The critical thing to understand about glaucoma which distinguishes it from cataract and macular degeneration is that you are highly unlikely to experience any visual symptoms when you start developing the disease.
Glaucoma is a painless condition. It is only when a patient has lost a lot of optic nerve tissue due to glaucomatous damage in both eyes that the patient may experience symptoms that can include blurred vision or realising that certain things are not as perceptible of one’s vision. Glaucoma results in gradual loss of the patient’s peripheral visual field and symptoms are subject to where the visual field defects are located.
Patients report symptoms late in the disease continuum and can include difficulty with reading and tripping over steps due to the inferior field of vision affected in both eyes. Therefore, one of the best approaches to determine whether you have any risk factors for glaucoma is to have regular eye assessments, which we would be happy to offer as part of our GlaucomaSafe package.
Age-related eye problems: Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is another condition which affects your central vision and is a disease that arises with age. With this disease, people can present a sudden loss of vision in their central vision in one or both eyes. Some patients can present with distortion i.e. straight lines appearing crooked.
There can be important signs identified during a routine eyesight test that flag up risk factors for macular degeneration which are asymptomatic, i.e. no visual symptoms. Therefore, one of the best approaches to determine whether you have any risk factors for macular degeneration is to have regular eye assessments, which we would be happy to offer as part of our MaculaSafe package.