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10 Ways Your Eyes Change With Age

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10 Ways Your Eyes Change With Age

As we get older, our eyes change, and this affects our vision. Your eye doctor can monitor these changes (some of which are a natural part of the aging process) and identify eye conditions or diseases early enough to treat them and prevent vision loss. Read on to learn more about the different types of eye changes one may encounter with age.

Age-Related Eye Conditions and Diseases

Cataracts

If your vision is starting to get blurry, you may be developing cataracts. Protein buildup on the once-clear crystalline lens, a small transparent disc inside your eye, creates cloudy patches. Over time these patches become bigger and, if left untreated, can eventually lead to blindness. Luckily, cataract surgery (where the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear lens) is extremely safe and effective.

Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss among seniors. This happens when the small central portion of your retina, called the macula, no longer functions effectively as the retinal nerves start to deteriorate. The sooner AMD is diagnosed, the higher the chances of maintaining your clear vision.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve. This damage is usually permanent and often caused by abnormally high pressure in your eye. It can lead to significant vision loss, including blindness. Scheduling regular eye exams can help catch glaucoma early, so that it can be treated before it causes damage.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels can swell and leak into the back of your eye. Left untreated, this can rapidly lead to vision loss, even blindness. Keeping blood sugar levels under control and careful monitoring by your eye doctor can prevent or limit the damage.

Vitreous detachment

This occurs when the gel-like vitreous inside the eye begins to liquefy and pull away from the retina, causing “spots and floaters” and, sometimes, flashes of light. This occurrence is usually harmless, but floaters and flashes of light can also signal the beginning of a detached retina — a serious problem that can cause blindness. If you experience flashes and floaters, see your eye doctor immediately to determine the cause.

 

Other Age-Related Changes

In addition to the above eye conditions and diseases, our vision and the structure of our eyes change as we get older.

Presbyopia

People in their 40s and 50s may have more difficulty focusing on near objects like books and phone screens. This is because the lens inside the eye begins to lose its ability to change shape. This process is called presbyopia (also known as age-related farsightedness). As time goes on, presbyopia will become more pronounced and you will eventually need glasses to see clearly. You may need multiple prescriptions – one prescription to enable you to see up close, one for intermediate distance, and one for distance vision.

Reduced pupil size

As we age, our reaction to light and the muscles that control our pupil size lose some strength. This causes the pupil to become smaller and less responsive to changes in ambient lighting.

The result? Difficulty in clearly seeing objects, such as a menu, in a low-light setting like a restaurant.

Dry eye

Our tear glands produce fewer tears and deliver less oil into our eyes as we get older. Your eye doctor can determine whether your dry eye is age-related or due to another condition, and prescribe prescription eye drops or other effective and lasting treatments to alleviate the dryness and restore comfort.

Loss of peripheral vision

Aging causes a decrease of our peripheral vision by approximately 1-3 degrees per decade of life. You may experience a peripheral visual field loss of 20-30 degrees by the time you reach your 70s and 80s. While peripheral vision loss is a normal part of aging, it can also indicate the presence of a serious eye disease.

Decreased color vision

The cells in the retina responsible for normal color vision tend to decline as we age, causing colors to become less bright and the contrast between different colors to be less noticeable. Though a normal part of aging, less vibrant colors can at times signal a more serious ocular problem.

 

Routine eye exams are essential to keeping your eyes healthy. Your eye doctor can determine whether your symptoms are caused by an eye problem or are a byproduct of aging.

If you or a loved one suffers from impaired vision, know that we can help you regain independence and start doing the things you love again. To find out more and to schedule your appointment, contact Low Vision Center At Optical Images today.

 

 

Low Vision Center At Optical Images serves patients from Seattle, Bellingham, Olympia, Vancouver, and throughout Washington.

Why Do Colors Appear Less Vibrant?

colors 640You’re deciding which clothes to wear, but wonder why their bright colors suddenly seem subdued. Or perhaps they look faded with your right eye but not your left eye.

Odd, right?

Not seeing colors the way you used to is often a symptom of optical problems, especially as we age. Let’s take a look at some of these diseases and explore ways a low vision eye doctor can help you improve or at least maximize your vision.

Cataracts occur when protein deposits accumulate on the eye’s crystalline lens and turn it opaque. Once-clear vision becomes cloudy and colors begin to fade.

The good news is that cataract surgery is a very safe procedure that replaces your cloudy lens with a new, clear lens. If you’ve had cataract surgery to restore clear vision, you’ll notice right away that colors appear much brighter than before. A few years after cataract surgery, some patients notice that colors may start to appear subdued. This is normal and can be treated very quickly using a laser procedure.

Glaucoma results from high pressure build-up inside the eye, which damages the optic nerve, reduces vision and can lead to blindness. Color-vision deficiency — the inability to tell certain colors apart — can be one of the signs that glaucoma is starting to affect the eyes.

The difficulty in distinguishing between blue and yellow colours is often associated with early glaucoma, whereas red-green deficiencies are generally associated with advanced glaucoma. However, there are times when it is difficult to measure or quantify acquired color vision deficiency, and color tests performed with standardized color test charts frequently characterize it as combined or nonspecific color vision deficiency.

Macular degeneration primarily affects older people by causing a deterioration of the macula, the center of the retina. This leads to blurriness and significant vision loss. Experiencing difficulty distinguishing between similar colors and hues is an early sign of the condition.

Optic neuritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the myelin coating on nerve fibers, causing blurriness and partial vision loss in one or both eyes. Colors, especially shades of red, become subdued, and it becomes harder to distinguish against a similarly colored background. Fortunately, the condition is usually temporary.

Diabetic retinopathy affects people with diabetes when high blood-sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina. This causes these tiny blood vessels to swell, leak fluid, or close, and can even cause abnormal new blood vessels to grow. These new vessels are very fragile and prone to being damaged. Symptoms often include fading colors, blurriness, vision loss, and more.

What to Do When Color-Related Difficulties and Other Visual Symptoms Arise

If you notice that your color vision is reduced, you may be in the early stages of a range of eye diseases. It is important for any eye condition to be diagnosed and treated early on so it can be effectively treated.

If these eye diseases are not managed early, the color-related problems you’re experiencing could worsen, eventually affecting your vision permanently, resulting in what is known as low vision. Low vision indicates that your vision has deteriorated to a point which makes your everyday tasks challenging and can negatively impact your quality of life.

If you notice that colors are diminished or you are experiencing other worrying symptoms affecting your vision, immediately consult Dr. Ross Cusic. We will examine you by:

  • Dilating your pupils
  • Evaluating your visual acuity
  • Providing a visual field examination
  • Providing a colour vision assessment
  • Conducting eye pressure tests

The sooner we identify the underlying cause behind your reduced color vision, the sooner you will be able to start treatment to improve or maximize your vision.

Low Vision Center At Optical Images helps patients in Seattle, Bellingham, Olympia, Vancouver, and throughout Washington.

References

Reading Tips For Those With Macular Degeneration

Woman 1.7FD w Cap.KinkadeThe most serious symptom of macular degeneration (AMD) is the loss of central vision, with those in the more advanced stages of AMD experiencing a smudge or black spot in the center of their vision. This makes it difficult to read and causes many people to give up on reading.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Below you will find a list of low vision devices and strategies that can help people with AMD read more easily and comfortably.

Members of The International Academy of Low Vision Specialists are experts in determining which low vision devices will work best for you for reading.

Low Vision Devices for Reading

Reading Magnifier

Hand-held magnifiers are the most commonly used visual aids for spot reading among those with AMD and other low vision conditions. In the correct power, they are useful for reading medicine bottles, prices, labels, oven dials, etc. While you can find small pocket magnifiers, full-page illuminated magnifiers, and magnifiers that are mounted on adjustable stands, only your low vision doctor can determine exactly what power you need.

Portable Electronic Magnifiers

A portable electronic magnifier resembles an iPad or a tablet. By holding this device in front of your reading material, you can view the magnified version on its LED screen.

High-Power Reading Glasses

Strong magnifying reading eyeglasses enable a person with severe visual impairment to read the fine print. Your low vision eye doctor will determine the correct near prescription and demonstrate how they work.

Video Magnifier

Although traditional optical magnifiers, such as magnifying glasses, are generally very helpful, some people benefit more from a video magnifier. A video magnifier, or closed-circuit television (CCTV), has a camera that transmits magnified images (up to 50x or higher) and displays them on a large monitor or TV screen. You can sit as close to the screen as you like and adjust the magnification, brightness, and contrast for reading clarity.

Tele-Microscopic Glasses

Tele-microscopic lenses are mounted on the eyeglass lenses and may be prescribed for one or both eyes. They allow people with low vision to read, use a computer, write, and perform other tasks at a comfortable distance.

Certain low vision devices require a prescription from an eye doctor as they are custom-made for your specific needs. Consult Dr. Ross Cusic, who will help determine which vision aids are best for your needs, based on your lifestyle and level of vision impairment.

Other Strategies To Help You Read With Macular Degeneration

Increase in Contrast

It’s important to ensure a stark contrast between the text being read and its background. Newspapers don’t offer much contrast because the grey letters sit on an off-white background.

Many electronic screens allow you to tailor the contrast to your needs: black lettering on a white background; white lettering on a black background; black lettering on a yellow background; and yellow lettering on a dark black background. Try the different color combinations and settle on the color contrast combination that offers the best contrast for the most comfortable reading experience.

Increase Lighting

Increasing the amount and type of lighting can greatly improve reading ability in those with AMD.

Direct light. A standard table lamp usually won’t provide sufficient light for reading a book. Consider getting an adjustable gooseneck lamp that allows you to focus the light directly onto the reading material.

Sunlight. Because natural sunlight is the ideal lighting for reading, try to arrange your furniture in such a way that you can sit near a window for comfortable daytime reading.

Lightbulbs. Use the brightest light bulbs for each light fixture in the house. These include LED, halogen, and full-spectrum light bulbs (which mimics natural sunlight more than incandescent bulbs). Be careful with halogen, however, as they may create excessive heat. Replace any fluorescent lighting in the house, as it can cause glare, particularly for those with low vision. For reading, however, the best option is to use lower strength light bulbs and bring the lamp closer.

E-reader. Kindles and other e-readers conveniently include a built-in light that allows you to adjust brightness for more comfortable reading.

Large Print Books or Larger Fonts

Consider purchasing large print books online or in book shops, as they include larger fonts, more spacing and better contrast. If you opt for electronic books, you can conveniently increase the font size, rendering it easier and more enjoyable to read.

Adjust Spacing

Your electronic reading device allows you to adjust the spacing between the lines as needed. By widening the space between lines, you will find reading easier and will experience less eye strain.

Speak with Dr. Ross Cusic for more advice on reading with macular degeneration or to get low vision aids and devices.

Low Vision Center At Optical Images serves low vision patients in Seattle, Bellingham, Olympia, and Vancouver, throughout Washington.

 

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