Taking care of your vision as you age

Just as our physical strength decreases with age, our eyes also exhibit an age-related decline in performance, particularly as we reach our 60’s and beyond.

Some age-related eye changes are perfectly normal, but others may signal a disease process. It’s important to recognize signs and symptoms, and perhaps even more important to mitigate the effects of aging with some simple and common-sense strategies.  Visit Dr. Gallo and Associates and see how we can help you see more clearly.

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What can you do about
Age-Related Vision Changes?

A healthy diet and wise lifestyle choices, including exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress and not smoking, are your best natural defenses against vision loss as you age. Also, have regular eye exams with your optometrist.

Be sure to discuss with your Optometrist all concerns you have about your eyes and vision. Tell us about any history of eye problems in your family and any health problems you may have.

Also, let your eye doctor know about any medications you take, including non-prescription vitamins, herbs and supplements.

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Eye Conditions

As we age, some will experience more serious age-related eye diseases that have greater potential for affecting our quality of life as we grow older. These conditions include glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy:


After you pass the milestone age of 40, you’ll notice it’s more difficult to focus on objects up close. This normal loss of focusing ability is called presbyopia, and is due to hardening of the lens inside your eye.

For a time, you can compensate for this decline in focusing ability by just holding reading material farther away from your eyes. But eventually, you’ll need reading glasses, multifocal contact lenses or multifocal eyeglasses.

Some corrective surgery options for presbyopia also are available.


Even though cataracts are considered an age-related eye disease, they are so common among seniors that they can also be classified as a normal aging change. About half of all 65-year-old Canadians have some degree of cataract formation in their eyes. As you enter your 70s, the percentage is even higher.

Thankfully, modern cataract surgery is extremely safe and so effective that 100% of vision lost to cataract formation usually is restored. If you are noticing vision changes due to cataracts, don’t hesitate to discuss symptoms with your optometrist. It’s often better to have cataracts removed before they advance too far.

Also, multifocal lens implants are now available. These advanced intraocular lenses (IOLs) potentially can restore all ranges of vision, thus reducing your need for reading glasses as well as distance glasses after cataract surgery.

Reduced pupil size

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

Because of these changes, people in their 60s need three times more ambient light for comfortable reading than those in their 20s. Also, seniors are more likely to be dazzled by bright sunlight and glare when emerging from a dimly lit building such as a movie theater. Eyeglasses with photochromic lenses and anti-reflective coating can help reduce this problem.

Dry eyes

As we age, our bodies produce fewer tears. This is particularly true for women after menopause. If you begin to experience burning, stinging or other eye discomfort related to dry eyes, use artificial tears as needed throughout the day for comfort, or consult your optometrist for other options such as prescription dry eye medications.

Loss of peripheral vision

Aging also causes a normal loss of peripheral vision, with the size of our visual field decreasing by approximately one to three degrees per decade of life. By the time you reach your 70s and 80s, you may have a peripheral visual field loss of 20 to 30 degrees.

Because the loss of visual field increases the risk for automobile accidents, make sure you are more cautious when driving. To increase your range of vision, turn your head and look both ways when approaching intersections.

Decreased colour vision

Cells in the retina that are responsible for normal colour vision decline in sensitivity as we age, causing colours to become less bright and the contrast between different colours to be less noticeable. In particular, blue colours may appear faded or “washed out.” While there is no treatment for this normal, age-related loss of colour perception, you should be aware of this loss if your profession (for example, artist, seamstress or electrician) requires fine colour discrimination.

Vitreous detachment

As we age, the gel-like vitreous inside the eye begins to liquify and pull away from the retina, causing “spots” and “floaters” and sometimes flashes of light.

This condition, called vitreous detachment, is usually harmless, but floaters and flashes of light can also signal the beginning of a retinal detachment, a serious problem that can cause blindness if not treated immediately. If you experience flashes and floaters, see your optometrist immediately to determine the cause.

Your Next Contact Lens Exam

Even if the lenses are working fine, you should schedule a contact lens exam at least once a year to make sure your eyes are continuing to tolerate contact lens wear and show no signs of ill effects from the lenses.