It’s normal for ageing to impact almost every part of our bodies — including our eyes. As we get older, age-related changes to our vision can happen so gradually that it can be easy not to notice them, even when those around us do.
If you care for an older friend or relative, it’s important to look out for signs of these conditions to help ensure that their eyes are as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Below, we’ll discuss how to recognise the symptoms of age-related eye problems in older people, and explain how a home eye test can help.

How does ageing impact the eyes?

Ageing impacts our eyes in a number of ways. As you get older, your eyelids can begin to lose structural support, causing them to droop and the eyes to appear sunken. This new position of the eyelids can make the eyes particularly sensitive, leading to watery eyes in some older people.1 Sometimes, watering eyes is a sign of dry eye syndrome, with the eyes producing excess tears to compensate.

Poor eyesight is one of the most common impacts of ageing in the eyes. Changes to the lens of your eye and a weakening of the eye muscles can lead to a change in how well you can see. Conditions such as myopia (short-sightedness) and hyperopia (long-sightedness), and presbyopia (loss of near vision) become more likely with age, which is why many people need to start wearing glasses as they get older.

Ageing can also impact the overall health of our eyes, leading to a number of common eye conditions. Cataracts and glaucoma are often considered old age eye problems because they naturally progress over time due to a build-up of environmental reasons (in the case of cataracts) as well as internal and genetic factors.
The ageing process also affects the structures at the back of the eyes (including the retina and macula), which are responsible for how well we see and form images. As these parts age, many older adults are more prone to developing conditions like age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy (if they already have diabetes).

Signs of eye problems in elderly people

Many age-related eye conditions don’t have any visible symptoms as they tend to develop over time. Sometimes, even the person experiencing them doesn’t notice because vision changes can happen gradually. However, there are some noticeable signs and behaviours that you can look out for in older friends and loved-ones that indicate they might be experiencing an age-related eye condition.

Behavioural signs to look out for:

  • Watery or cloudy eyes
  • Trouble recognising family members at a distance
  • Inability to see objects in peripheral (wide) vision
  • Squinting to focus on things in close-range e.g. books, puzzles, and the TV
  • Needing brighter lights for reading or detailed work

Visual signs to take a note of if mentioned:

  • Blurry or hazy vision
  • Bright spots or halos in the vision
  • Decreased brightness of colours and increased blurriness of printed words
  • Floaters (tiny specks or cobwebs floating across the field of vision)
  • Sore, dry eyes and headache

If you experience any of these signs and symptoms or notice them in an older friend or relative, it’s important to book an eye test to have them investigated further. In most cases, the earlier an age-related eye condition is recognised, the quicker it can be treated and prevented from developing any further.

Can a home eye test help?

If you care for an elderly person, it’s a good idea to make sure their glasses prescription is up-to-date and they have regular eye examinations with an optometrist, especially if they’re aged 60 or older.

Home eye tests are a helpful and convenient option for older adults who have mobility issues, or a physical or mental disability that makes it difficult for them to visit their local optician unaccompanied.

Our visiting opticians can conduct a full eye test from the comfort of a customer’s own home to help detect any signs of old age eye problems or other underlying conditions. Find out whether you or someone you care for is eligible for a free home eye test.

For more information on Specsavers home care (domiciliary) services, simply visit ourhome visits page.