As with most health conditions, the risk of developing a sight-threatening eye condition increases as we age. This happens for several reasons. First, the lenses in our eyes naturally become less flexible, starting in our teens. But it isn’t until we experience problems in our mid to late forties, often with focussing when reading or doing close work, that we become aware of this change. Other factors that can change our sight include the cumulative effects of exposure to UV light, eating a diet that isn’t well balanced, smoking or not taking sufficient exercise. There can also be an inherited, genetic element involved that affects how our vision ages.
As well as short or long-sightedness, there are some conditions that are age related. Dry eye is the most common cause of irritation in the over 60’s and is caused by the tear glands not producing enough (or poor-quality) fluid to keep the eye surface moist. Presbyopia causes difficulty in focussing on close objects and is caused by the lens in the eyes becoming more crystalline and therefore less flexible. Glaucoma is caused when the optic nerve, sending signals from the eye to the brain, becomes damaged. It initially affects peripheral vision but can develop into total loss of sight if it isn’t treated. Age-related Macular Degeneration, or AMD, affects the central field of vision and is the largest cause of blindness in the UK. Occasionally older people experience ‘floaters’ in their eyes, which interrupts their vision.
The best way of making sure we maintain good eye health is having regular eye tests and, for the over 60’s, getting an NHS test is free. By the time we reach our 60’s, over 96% of us will require some sort of vision correction. A regular eye exam can make sure you and your optician are aware of any changes in your vision and can take action to prevent this becoming too serious. Opticians recommend having a regular test every 2 years and if necessary, they will advise you to come more frequently.
At Monnow Eyecare, 70% of patients have an OCT scan as part of their regular eye test, which gives a comprehensive 3D scan of the retina, or light-sensitive layer, at the back of the eye. The data from these scans, together with your other eye test information, is kept on file and allows your optician to monitor your eyesight over time and take prompt action to prevent any condition getting more severe.
Helen Tilley, optometrist at Monnow Eyecare, urges everyone to come in for an eye test, especially if it’s been a while since their last one. “We understand that some people feel a bit nervous or they may be concerned about particular changes in their eyesight. We try our best to keep everyone relaxed, explain the tests and have the time to ask as many questions as they like.
Our 2020 patient survey shows 99% of our patients agree.”
Don’t put off booking an eye exam, simply call us on 01600 715 299 to arrange a convenient time for you.