Just like other parts of your body, as you get older your eyesight can deteriorate. What should you expect and why?
1. Not all eye test results are the same
It’s a good idea to have your eyes tested regularly both with a ‘sight test’ and an ‘eye test’. An eye test is far more detailed, but many high street chains don’t specify which is which. An eye exam should measure your intraocular pressure, look at the front of the eye and the back.
2. Sunglasses are vital
Frequent exposure to UV light can harm your retina, increasing the likelihood of developing cataracts or macular degeneration. Choose ones with a CE/British Standards mark, which block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB rays.
3. Black spots are common
These annoying black spots, ‘floaters’, are very common and increase with age. They’re caused by a change in the jelly-like substance that fills the eye. When you get older the liquids separate and can clump together to form specks. Although irritating, the majority are harmless. If you suddenly develop a lot or a very large fleck then visit an eye casualty department.
4. Our eyes become drier as we get older
It’s not only age that makes our eyes drier. Using a computer, and even things such as central heating, can worsen dry eye syndrome. It affects around 15% of adults over 40 and is twice as common in women as men. Try using lubricating eye drops to reduce discomfort and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
5. Start from a young age
If you’ve got children make sure they have regular eye tests, and ideally these eye tests should occur before your children start school so that any problems can be picked up from an early age.
Professor Dan Reinstein is an ophthalmic surgeon and medical director of the London Vision Clinic, and holds consultant posts in New York, London and Paris.