As you age, your eyesight becomes more at risk of several common eye diseases that can drastically affect your vision. Regular eye tests are vital when it comes to looking after your eye health but knowing the signs and symptoms of certain eye conditions can also help. Here are the symptoms of four eye conditions that become more common as you get older:
AMD most commonly starts in your 50s or 60s. It only affects your central vision — when you’re looking straight ahead at something. So while it doesn’t cause total sight loss, it can significantly affect your quality of life if left untreated.
What are the symptoms of AMD?
There are two types of AMD — wet and dry — and the symptoms depend on the type you have. Dry AMD is the most common type and slowly progresses over years. Symptoms include:
Wet AMD occurs more suddenly with more severe symptoms. It can cause your vision to rapidly decline, resulting in a loss of central vision, blurriness or blind spots.
There is no cure for AMD, but it can be slowed down by:
If you are diagnosed with wet AMD, you’ll need medication to stop it becoming more serious. This usually involves injections into your eye every four to six weeks.
Cataracts are caused by cloudy patches forming on the lenses of your eyes and are common over the age of 50. They can affect your vision and, if left untreated, cause blindness. However, cataracts are reversible with surgery.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
Cataract symptoms include:
If you wear glasses, you find that your glasses seem dirty even after you’ve just cleaned them — in fact, it's the lenses in your eyes that are cloudy.
If your cataracts are not significantly affecting your vision, your optometrist may first suggest a stronger prescription for your glasses.
Your cataracts will continue to worsen over time and will eventually need surgery, where the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens.
After recovering from surgery, you will most likely need to wear prescription glasses. This is because your artificial lens will not be able to focus at all distances as natural lenses can.
Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve — the nerve that connects your eyes to your brain. It’s caused by high pressure in the fluid of your eye and is more common in those aged over 60.
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
The most common type of glaucoma, chronic (long-term) glaucoma, damages your vision so gradually that you likely won’t notice any symptoms until it reaches the later stages.
Diagnosing the condition early is key to stopping it from progressing and preventing further vision loss. Early symptoms include:
Acute angle-closure glaucoma is less common and comes on suddenly — it is a medical emergency. Call 999 or go to A&E if you notice any of these symptoms:
Glaucoma treatment can’t repair vision loss that has already occurred but it can prevent further vision loss. The treatment you receive will depend on the type of glaucoma you have.
People with diabetes are at risk of diabetic retinopathy. It’s caused by high blood sugar levels damaging your retina and can cause blindness if left untreated.
What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
Early-stage symptoms of diabetic retinopathy are not obvious, so you might not notice them. While it can be picked up early during a diabetic eye screening, common noticeable symptoms include:
Treating diabetic retinopathy
In most cases, diabetic retinopathy can be treated by better managing your diabetes. This means:
If your diabetes is well-controlled but your condition persists, you may need treatment such as:
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Lux Fatimathas, Editor and Project Manager
Lux has a BSc(Hons) in Neuroscience from UCL, a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and experience as a postdoctoral researcher in developmental biology. She has a clear and extensive understanding of the biological and medical sciences.Having worked in scientific publishing for BioMed Central and as a writer for the UK’s Medical Research Council and the National University of Singapore, she is able to clearly communicate complex concepts.
Alfie Jones, Director — Cahoot Care Marketing
Alfie has a creative writing degree from UCF and initially worked as a carer before supporting his family’s care training business with copywriting and general marketing.He has worked in content marketing and the care sector for over 10 years and overseen a diverse range of care content projects, building a strong team of specialist writers and marketing creatives after founding Cahoot in 2016.