Our eyes function similarly to that of a camera whenever we see the things, places, and people around us. The lens of our eyes bends rays of light to focus them on the retina found at the back of the eye just as the lens in a camera focuses the light on the film. If the brain functions are still intact, this camera-like mechanism will result to perceiving a clear and distinct picture of the world around us. This is a system that is beautifully and efficiently made for us to appreciate our surroundings.
The problem is, it doesn’t always stay like that. As we grow old inevitably, our visual acuity decreases too. It happens to almost everyone. I bet you haven’t even seen a 60-something person not wearing corrective glasses? So, how does eyesight change with age then? Is it the camera that malfunctions? Does it become worn out?
Similar to how our physical strength decreases with age, our eyes also exhibit an age-related decline in function. This happens particularly as we reach the age of 60 and beyond. When we are born our lenses are crystal clear and they are also very pliable which are very important determinants of visual acuity. Unfortunately, as we grow older, the lens progressively clouds up and becomes less pliable too.
The clouding of the lens will make our eyes work differently. An image you see, for example, has to travel through a distorted medium which will come out as diminished vision. At the same time, when the lens become less pliable, it also loses its ability to focus over a wide range of distances. A hardened lens becomes more fixed on distant objects and cannot focus as well on nearby objects.
However, decreased visual acuity doesn’t develop just because of old age. Your vision can get worse as a result of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, or even because of diabetes. Some age-related eye changes are perfectly normal though so no need to worry much.
The age related decrease in visual acuity is somewhat inevitable. There are still some lucky people who do not have that problem. Maybe it’s in the genes or maybe it’s a result of a health lifestyle but who knows? What you can do in the meantime is to undergo regular exams with an optometrist or ophthalmologist once you hit the age of 60 (or even earlier if you wish!). He or she can then guide you in taking steps to lower your risk of age-related vision problems or to slow its progression if you already have it.