How Aging Affects Vision: Knowing What’s Normal and What’s Not

Finding it hard to recognize people at a distance? Need to keep the newspaper at arm’s length when reading? As we age, we might experience slight changes in our vision. From difficulty reading to trouble adjusting to light changes, there’s a lot of eye-related problems that are common among adults. But before you downplay every eye trouble into mere effects of aging, it’s best to know which symptoms are common and which could indicate serious medical conditions. Read on.

What Happens to Our Eyes as We Age?

Similar to all other organs, our eyes undergo changes as we age. They grow rapidly during the first years of our lives and become fully developed by the age of 20. From thereon up to our 30s, our eyes are expected to perform normally. However, once we reach around 40 or beyond, that’s the time we may begin to notice subtle changes in our vision performance. 

Generally, such changes can be traced to the normal occurrence of cellular aging. As we age, our cells become stiff, and some cease to function properly. A decline in cell function affects how well our eyes perform.

Common Age-Related Eye Concerns

  1. Trouble seeing things clearly in low light or at night

For adults aging 40 and above, they might begin having trouble seeing things clearly in dim-lit areas, such as theatres or poorly-lit offices and restaurants. Likewise, they might be needing more light sources to do their normal tasks efficiently.

Generally, such changes can be linked to how our pupils change due to old age. Normally, as birthdays pile up, the muscles that regulate our pupil size weaken. As a result, pupils of older adults become smaller and less responsive to changes in illumination level. 

Since the pupil functions by changing its size to control how much light enters the eye, these eventual age-related changes in pupil function result in less light getting through the inner parts of the eyes. As a result, seniors are likely to experience difficulty adjusting to dim-lit places and need more light to see things clearly.

  1. Difficulty to see and focus at close range

As people age, they are likely to have difficulty reading and focusing at close range. As a result, they may tend to keep a distance between their eyes and the objects they want to focus on to see them clearly. Normal chores made at close range, such as sewing and cleaning miniature items, are also likely to become more challenging.

Specifically, all these happen due to the changes brought by aging to our lens. Similar to pupils, lenses lose their flexible ability over time. They grow weaker and become stiff later in life. Since the lens works by changing its shape to bend and focus the light on the retina, losing its flexible feature affects our eye’s ability to see and focus on objects up close. Such a condition is called presbyopia. When this happens, people afflicted by the condition can turn to experts and ask for reading glasses or those glasses with bifocal power.

Symptoms of Serious Eye Conditions 

While it’s pretty common to experience a decline in our vision performance as we age, vision loss is not normal at all. It’s best always to keep watch of your symptoms to avoid permanent and complete blindness. Some may already indicate serious underlying conditions that require immediate medical attention. Among these include:

  1. Eye pain 

Experiencing burning or stabbing feelings in the eye? Eye pain isn’t a normal occurrence among people of all ages. Hence, if you experience sudden pain in the eye area, it’s best to consult a doctor right away.

Common conditions linked to this symptom may include uveitis or glaucoma. The former refers to eye inflammation, while the latter is a disease affecting the optic nerve. When left untreated, both conditions may result in permanent vision loss.

  1. Reduced ability to distinguish colors

For some seniors, colors may appear less vivid or look washed out in their eyes. As a result, they may experience trouble recognizing and distinguishing things by color. While such symptoms may not appear serious or life-threatening, blurry or cloudy vision may indicate cataracts.

Specifically, over time, the lens that was once clear may become cloudy. As a result, instead of the lens bending light rays to the retina flawlessly, said light may instead scatter, reducing the saturation of images in the eyes. When ignored, cataracts may grow worse and interfere with our vision. An experienced doctor can remove the cataract by surgery and replace it with a clear, artificial lens.

  1. Double vision

Double vision is another symptom that cannot be ignored among seniors. Specifically, there is a double vision when you see two images whenever you look at a single object.  

Generally, this condition may be caused by various factors. One is when the muscle controlling your eye movement becomes too weak, it cannot keep both your eyes aligned with each other. Another possible reason is due to cornea damage. In most cases, however, double vision serves as a signal of cataracts.

It’s best to consult an eye doctor to know which among these is the real culprit.

Visit Us Today! 

With age comes its own unique set of challenges. If you’re experiencing any eye trouble, never downplay the symptoms into mere effects of old age. Consult a doctor right away. Arizona Retinal Specialists specialize in eye care and provide expert diagnosis, treatment, and advice. You may schedule an appointment at your convenience.


NOTICE TO USERS is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on