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The structures of the eye and the processes of vision begin to undergo changes in the late fourth or early fifth decade of life. By age 65, 50 percent of people have vision impairments.
Some conditions that affect the eye and vision develop secondary to other health conditions that are more prevalent in older people, such as diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease, all of which can cause retinopathy. Much loss of vision related to aging is progressive and permanent, interfering with activities such as driving, reading and other close work, and seeing at night.
However, most people retain the ability to see well enough to function in everyday activities.
Adaptations to accommodate the changes of the eye and vision with aging are numerous and can help maintain a desirable quality of life for many people. Corrective lenses or reading glasses are effective for presbyopia.
Surgery can improve vision impairments such as cataract (cataract extraction and lens replacement), corneal damage (corneal reshaping or corneal transplantation), and ptosis and ectropion (blepharoplasty).
Magnifiers for reading and close work, adjustments on televisions and computers to enlarge screen images, voice-activated telephone dialers, highintensity light sources, and screen readers with voice output are among the devices available to accommodate low vision.
Eye Changes of Aging and Their Effects on Vision
|Eye Changes of Aging and Their Effects on Vision|
|Physical Change||Resulting Health Condition||Effect on Eyes or Vision|
|Death of cones in the macula||age-related macular degeneration (armd)||Diminished visual acuity in the center of vision|
|White rim around the cornea||Arcus senilis||None|
|Lens cloudiness and discoloration||cataract||Blurred or hazy vision; faded colors; progressive loss of vision|
|“Stroke” of the OPTIC NERVE that interrupts the flow of blood||ischemic optic neuropathy||Diminished visual acuity; decreased visual field; progressive loss of vision|
|Slowed chemical reactions in the rods||night blindness||Diminished visual acuity in low-light circumstances|
|Liquefaction of the vitreous humor||vitreous detachment||floaters|
|Loss of lens flexibility||presbyopia||Diminished ability to focus on near objects|
|Atrophy (weakening) of the eyelid muscles and tissues, shifting of the orbital fat pads||ptosis; ectropion||Partial occlusion of visual field; can cause conjunctivitis, keratitis, corneal injury|
See also GENERATIONAL HEALTH-CARE PERSPECTIVES; VISION HEALTH.