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Eye health is something that many of us take for granted, but which also impacts us widely. According to the Royal Institute for Blind People, 250 people begin to experience sight loss every single day – amounting to one person every six minutes.

The causes behind vision change and loss are widespread, with a variety of causes from lifestyle choices to hereditary degenerative disease and beyond. But one of the most common causes of changes to your sight is the simple act of aging. How do our eyes change over time, and what can we do to help preserve our eye health for years to come?

Presbyopia

One of the leading age-related eye conditions that can present in older adults is presbyopia. Presbyopia describes the eye’s growing inability to focus on close-up objects, leading to increased far-sightedness as one ages.

Presbyopia occurs as a result of the lens within your eye losing flexibility. This makes it harder for your eye muscles to ‘pull focus’. Thankfully, presbyopia is not degenerative in nature; contact lenses can be used to alleviate the symptoms, and to return your short-range focus.

Age-related Macular Degeneration, or AMD, is another condition that can arise in middle-aged people. AMD describes the degeneration of your central vision over time, in the form of blurring. AMD can happen in two distinct ways; ‘dry’ AMD is a slow process of degeneration occurring over a period of years, while ‘wet’ AMD can see degeneration occur within weeks.

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According to the NHS, there is no concrete understanding of what exactly causes AMD. However, links have been found to a number of factors – including smoking habits and obesity. As such, positive lifestyle changes represent the best approach to limiting the likelihood of developing AMD.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition which can affect people of all ages, but which is most commonly found in older people – specifically, people above the age of 70. Glaucoma describes an increase in pressure within your eyes, caused by a build-up of fluid. This increase in pressure can damage the optic nerve, affecting vision and even leading to blindness.

Glaucoma is easily treated if caught early, but loss of vision can be permanent if glaucoma is left untreated. Treatments can vary, but the most effective treatments seek to remove blockages in your eye’s drainage channels – via surgery or laser-based intervention.

Cataracts

Lastly, cataracts are a relatively common condition resulting from age, in which the lenses of your eyes ‘frost over’ – obstructing your vision and potentially leading to blindness. Cataracts can be caught early via eye testing, but otherwise do not present noticeable symptoms until they become clearly visible.

Cataracts are only treatable by surgery, though powerful prescription glasses can be used in the early days of diagnosis to mitigate their impact.