Just like the rest of our bodies, our eyes change over the years. While most changes are vision-related, there are physical changes, too!
To better explain, let's start at the beginning.
How the Eyes Change With Age
Babies are born with eyes about 16.5 millimeters in diameter. That's about 75% of the size of an adult eye! However, during the first 3 years of life, they grow bigger. (The eyes also increase in size during puberty and become fully developed when you're in your 20s. That's about 24 millimeters!)
Newborns mainly concentrate on faces or things 8 to 10 inches from their face. During the first few months, babies' eyes start working together, and sight quickly improves. Although their color vision is not as sensitive as an adult's, most infants have excellent color vision at five months of age.
At 9 to 12 months, babies can throw objects with accuracy and judge distances reasonably well.
As children grow, they need to have specific vision skills for learning. Eighty percent (80%) of what a child learns in school is information that is presented visually, so it’s not surprising that good vision is necessary for optimal learning.
The skills needed for learning include eye focusing, eye tracking, visual acuity, eye-hand coordination, eye teaming, visual perception, and more. That's why early childhood eye exams are essential to ensure normal visual development and to confirm there are no vision problems that might affect their academic performance when a child reaches school age.
Changes in Vision
The eyes and sight are completely developed when you get to your early 20s and remain the same through your 30s. Although the eyes only grow during childhood and teenagehood, your eye's shape may change physically later on. For example, if you become shortsighted, they may become longer.
From age 45 to 65, the eyes start to experience common changes related to eyesight. These vision issues are most likely the first signs of aging.
When you reach your 40s, your lenses become less flexible. That can cause farsightedness, making it difficult to see nearby objects.
Presbyopia is common among people between the ages of 41 and 60, which generally gets worse over time. But bifocal lenses or reading glasses can help correct your vision and make you see better.
Changes with Light
As you age, the lens in your eye becomes denser. And that means the amount of light that passes through the retina is smaller.
As a result, it might be challenging to see in low light conditions. It gets even more severe as you approach your 60s, meaning that you might require more light than you did in your teenage years.
Depth Perception, Floaters, and Color Changes
How you see colors could change as you grow older. Colors may have less contrast or look bright.
Depth perception also becomes more difficult. You might also see floating black spots like gray or black specks or cobwebs that move slowly when you roll your eyes. Irrespective of these changes, floaters don’t affect your vision.
Your eyes may also change physically due to old age. These changes may include:
- Puffy eyes.
- Eyeballs that sink back or bulge forward.
- Droopy eyelids.
- Color or pigment changes. Your eyes appear brown or yellow from exposure to dust, wind, and UV light.
- A gray-white ring at the edge of your cornea.
Schedule an appointment with an optometrist if you notice any of these symptoms:
- Sudden blurriness and loss of vision.
- Eye discomfort and Double vision.
- Swelling or redness on your eyelids.
- Flashes of light in your vision.
Tips to Keep Your Eyes Healthy
Luckily, there are things you can do to protect your eyes and ward off vision problems. We have talked about the many ways to do this in our previous blogs many times, but the big ones are:
- Speak with your optometrist about any concerns you have about your vision. Talk about any history of vision problems in your family, including other health problems you may have.
- Always wear sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat to protect your eyes from UV light.
- Get AT LEAST seven hours of sleep every night and avoid bright screens 2–3 hours before bedtime.
- Go for annual dilated eye examinations (if you're above 60) to check for possible eye diseases.
- Take care of your OVERALL health! Eat right, hydrate, exercise, and quit smoking!
- Set rules on screen time to protect your child's vision.
- Protect your vision and the vision health of your family by brightening your home with the right lighting.