As You Age - Eyes

Publication Date: 
Fri, 04/01/2016
By: Alere Staff

Have you noticed that you need more light to read than you used to? Does it take longer to adjust to bright sunlight when you walk out of a dark movie theatre?  Are your eyes getting drier as you get older? These are all part of the normal aging process of your eyes. As you age, the muscles that control pupil size and reaction to light lose some strength. This causes the pupil to become smaller and less responsive to changes in lighting. Also, our bodies produce fewer tears as we get older and this dryness often causes burning and stinging in the eyes.

There are things you can do to protect your eyesight as you age:

  • Have your eyes checked regularly by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. If you are over 65, you should have yearly dilated eye exams. By dilating your eyes with drops, the doctor can look at the back of your eyes. This is the only way to find some common eye diseases that have no early signs or symptoms. 
  • If you wear glasses, make sure your prescription is checked annually.
  • See your regular physician yearly for wellness checks. Diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure can cause eye problems if not controlled or treated.

Call your eye doctor immediately if you:

  • Have eye pain.
  • Suddenly cannot see or everything looks blurry.
  • See flashes of light.
  • Experience double vision.
  • Have redness or swelling of your eye and eyelid.

As age changes your eyesight, there are things you can do to adjust:

  • Improve the lighting in your home and even consider motion lights that turn on when you enter a room. 
  • Use telephones, watches and clocks with large numbers.
  • Write with bold, black felt tip markers.
  • Put colored tape on the edge of your steps to help you see them and prevent you from falling.
  • Consider using E-books for reading that can be adjusted to provide large dark fonts.

References:

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Aging and Your Eyes. National Institute on Aging: AgePage. 22 December 2015. Retrieved from the website: www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/aging-and-your-eyes.  
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Diseases and Conditions: Aging and Your Eyes. 2015. Retrieved from the website:https://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/cole-eye/disease-conditions/hic-aging-and-your-eyes.