It’s easy to take your eyes for granted. You use them every day in almost everything you do. Also, if you’re a busy parent, it gets harder for you to take care of your health and make it a priority. But, just think of all the things you couldn’t do without your eyes?
Given how much your overall health can affect your eyes, having a bit of knowledge about how your eyes will change as you age may just help you to stay alert and take care of them a little better. This’ll ensure you don’t miss a thing while raising a growing family.
To help you understand what you can expect from your eyes as you and your family get older, the experts at Optimax have broken it down.
Infancy and School Age
Your eyes progress pretty quickly throughout infancy. Although at first colour vision isn’t as sensitive as for adults, most infants will have colour vision by 5 months. At 9-12 months, babies develop the ability to judge distances fairly well.
These are the following skills children will learn before they reach school age:
- Visual acuity – This refers to the clarity of vision and the sharpness of the eye’s focus. It includes how clearly you can see objects up close and far away like reading a book or reading a whiteboard.
- Eye focusing – As the name suggests, this is how well your eyes maintain focus when you switch from looking at something far away to something nearby.
- Eye tracking – This is when the eyes learn how to follow a target. For example, tracking words along a page, or watching a thrown ball.
- Eye teaming – This refers to how you use your eyes together and how they coordinate.
- Hand-eye coordination – This is the ability to use visual information to direct your hands.
- Visual perception – This is when your eyes organise images on a printed page into letters, words and ideas. Then the ability to understand and remember them.
Following this, many children start needing a prescription in their teenage years, so this is also a prime time for an eye exam. It is also good to keep in the habit of seeing an eye doctor regularly.
After your eyes fully develop, there are a few ways in which your eyes might change throughout your lifetime.
Pregnancy and Menopause
Pregnancy and menopause affect your body in many ways. But, did you know that these important times can also have an effect on your eyes? Usually, these changes are minor and temporary, but it is useful to be aware of what to watch out for and what symptoms are a cause for concern.
Dry eyes – This is possibly the most common eye-related symptom during pregnancy. It is caused by the fluctuation in hormones which affect tear production, leading to dry, irritated eyes. Some women find contact lenses uncomfortable during this time and will to switch to glasses until the symptoms pass.
Migraines – Again, migraines due to pregnancy are also due to the change in hormones. With migraines, you may experience flashing lights in your eyes, blind spots, auras or even temporary loss of vision in extreme cases.
Eye pressure – As your hormones fluctuate during pregnancy, a build-up of fluid can occur in the eye, causing pressure. This is quite similar to how your hands and feet swell up. The pressure changes the thickness of your cornea and the curvature of your eye, affecting your vision and your prescription.
Prescription changes – Symptoms due to pregnancy and menopause can lead to a change in your prescription. But, if you have concerns about your eye health, it is best to see your eye doctor.
Your eyes will experience changes in performance as you age, particularly when you reach your sixties. Some of these changes are perfectly normal, while others are so common that they are simply considered part of the ageing process. Here are a few of them:
Needing more light – It is common for you to need more light to see things as you age. In fact, your eyes can need three times more light for comfortable reading in your sixties, compared to your twenties. This is because the muscles that control the pupil size and reaction to light lose some strength as you age. This result is the pupil reducing in size and becoming less responsive to light.
Difficulty reading (presbyopia) – After reaching 40, you may start to find it more difficult to focus on objects close to you. This is commonly known as presbyopia. It occurs as a result of the lens inside your eye gradually declining in focusing ability because it changes in shape and becomes less flexible.
Colour perception changes – The lens inside your eye is usually clear, but as you age, it can start to discolour. This makes it hard to see and distinguish between certain colour shades.
Dry eyes/reduced tear production – You can experience dry eyes due to reduced tear production as you age, but as mentioned earlier, this is often due to hormonal changes women experience during pregnancy and menopause.
While most changes in vision are normal, you are also more likely to develop certain eye diseases as you age such as cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Even though cataracts are considered an age-related eye disease, they are so common amongst seniors that they are often classified as just a normal part of the ageing process. Luckily, modern cataract surgery is highly effective.
What Can You Do?
If you’re raising a family and moving through adulthood, it is important to take care of your eyes. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle such as eating and drinking healthily, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep will help you have your best natural defences to face the changes in vision that come with age. You should also have regular eye exams to identify any problems early.
Again, if you have any concerns about your eyes, see your eye doctor.