Vision loss after 40:
A VisionSafe Eye Check might catch signs of AMD, glaucoma, macular or retinal conditions.
Vision loss after the age of 40 can occur more commonly, and there are several reasons why this happens. One of the most prevalent reasons is an age-related change in our focusing which means we are not able to read small print easily without glasses (also known as presbyopia). Presbyopia starts with people holding reading material further away which can help compensate for the change in focusing. This is caused by age-related changes in the natural crystalline lens in the eye which becomes stiffer and unable to change shape to focus on objects nearby as well as in the distance.
Patients need reading glasses when reading becomes blurred. However, there are more serious eye conditions which can lead to irreversible vision loss or blindness if not detected at an early stage. These conditions include AMD, glaucoma or other retinal conditions (such as retinal vein occlusion).
Age-related macular degeneration
AMD is a condition which can first develop when people are in their 50s. In AMD, waste material builds up underneath the light-detecting cells of the retina (photoreceptor cells and retinal pigment epithelium). The build-up affects the function of the light-detecting cells and can result in subtle symptoms such as problems with vision in dim light or driving at night.
As the condition progresses, the light detecting cells and other cells in the retina die away leading to a blind spot in the central vision (this process is called dry AMD). This progression can happen gradually over several years, and people with dry AMD eventually lose the ability to see faces, read and drive if the condition affects both eyes. Sometimes, people with AMD develop sudden vision loss over days due to bleeding under or into the retina, a disease known as wet AMD. There are injection treatments for wet AMD which are effective in treating the condition if people present to eye doctors at an early stage. Early detection of AMD can be difficult and can require several visits to an ophthalmologist who is an expert in the detection and treatment of AMD such as Mr Praveen Patel.
Glaucoma is a disease which affects the optic nerve as it leaves the retina and causes the degeneration of retinal nerve fibres which carry information about vision from the eye to the brain. Some, but not all patients with glaucoma also have raised eye pressure or a family history of glaucoma. Sometimes, the internal anatomy (or shape) of the eye can change with age which induces the risk of increased eye pressure, and your local optometrist can identify this potential change and refer you to an ophthalmologist for an assessment.
Early detection of glaucoma can be difficult and can require several visits to an ophthalmologist who is an expert in the detection and treatment of glaucoma such as Miss Lydia Chang. Glaucoma is a treatable condition, and we can prevent visual loss and/or blindness for most patients.
Finally, other retinal diseases such as retinal vein occlusion or diabetic retinopathy or maculopathy can also lead to vision loss if not detected at an early stage. These are more common in people over 40, and the symptoms can be similar to other eye diseases leading to vision loss.
The first step you can take towards ensuring you have good visual and ocular health as your eyes change with age is to seek an eyesight test with your local optometrist. If you optometrist detects anything of concern, he or she is eminently qualified to refer you to an ophthalmologist.
At Eyesight, we specialise in the detection and treatment of glaucoma and all types of AMD and other retinal conditions. A VisionSafe Check is an excellent way of finding out how healthy your eyes are. VisionSafe Check includes high-resolution, 3D optical coherence tomography retinal imaging (OCT imaging). This painless eye scan allows Mr Patel and Miss Chang to produce a 3D map of the part of the retina most at risk from diseases and to look at the optic disc (where the optic nerve leaves the retina to carry vision related messages to the brain). These high-definition images show where diseases such as AMD, glaucoma, retinal vein occlusion and diabetes are starting to cause microscopic changes in the layers of light-detecting cells in the retina. This allows early detection of eye disease and a chance to offer treatment before people have developed vision loss, giving the best chance of avoiding blindness.