How Your Eyes Change As You Age

Sep 13, 2023

Aging eyes cover

How Your Eyes Change as You Age 

Don’t be surprised if you experience changes in your vision as you age. While some of these changes are completely normal, vision loss is not an inevitable part of growing older. Find out some of the most common age-related eye changes and how to protect your sight through the years. 

Reduced Near Vision 

Presbyopia is the medical term for losing the ability to see things clearly up close. The word “presbyopia” is from a Greek word that means “old eye.” This condition usually shows up around age 40.  

If you find yourself holding reading material farther away from your face to see the words more clearly, it’s probably time to schedule an eye exam. If your vision is otherwise normal, you can probably use simple reading glasses to see clearly up close again. Dr. Matzkin or Dr. Herron can tell you what power lenses to buy. 

If you have nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, you will need prescription lenses that correct each condition. Progressive lenses, bifocals, and trifocals are three options for corrective eye glasses. Monovision or multi-focal contact lenses are another option if you prefer not to wear glasses. Multi-focal lens implants are a great choice to achieve lasting near and far vision correction 

Difficulty Seeing in Low Light 

Rod cells within the eye weaken as we age. Because these cells are responsible for low-light vision, you may notice you don’t see as well at night or in a darkened room. You may also notice a loss of contrast sensitivity, meaning it’s harder to distinguish objects from backgrounds when both are a similar color.  These changes cause many older people to stop driving at night—something the National Traffic Safety Administration recommends.  

Glare from headlights or bright sunlight may also seem more dramatic with advancing years. Wearing sunglasses outdoors and using matte screen filters on digital devices can help cut glare sensitivity. 

Note that reduced night vision or trouble reading in low light can also be an early sign of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. It is one of the leading causes of vision loss in adults over the age of 50. Early detection can slow the development of AMD, so be sure to schedule eye exams every year or two, or any time you notice changes in your vision. 

Seeing Spots, Floaters or Light Flashes 

The vitreous is the jelly-like substance that fills our eyes. It can thicken or shrink with age, causing tiny clumps of gel that appear as floating spots in our vision. Seeing occasional flashes of light is another vitreous-related issue, as the thickened gel pulls or rubs against the retina. These changes are usually harmless, but schedule a comprehensive eye exam if you notice a sudden increase in frequency.  

Dry, Red Eyes 

Because tear production slows as we age, eye dryness is common among older adults. Dry eyes can feel irritated, and rubbing them can inflame sensitive tissues. Blepharitis is a hormonal-induced eyelid inflammation that’s also more common in older adults. Dr. Matzkin and Dr. Herron can tell you which dry eye or red eye treatment is best for you. 


About half of Americans over the age of 75 will develop cataracts, a clouding of the lens inside the eye. Surgical treatment is the only permanent solution for cataracts, and Dr. Matzkin has restored the vision of hundreds of older patients in the metro Chattanooga area. Click here to see what they have to say about having multi-focal lens replacement surgery at Allied Eye. 


Glaucoma is an eye condition that raises eye pressure and damages the optic nerve. It can affect anyone, but it’s most common in African Americans over the age of 40 and other races aged 60 or older. Diabetics, severely nearsighted adults, and those with a family history of glaucoma are at higher risk of developing the disease.  

Diabetic Retinopathy 

Older people may not think about how diabetes can affect the eye, but it’s actually the leading cause of blindness among adults. Prolonged high blood sugar levels weaken capillaries in the eye, causing them to leak blood that damages the retina. Diabetics also have a higher risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma. 

Eye Changes That Indicate Other Health Problems 

Routine eye exams can reveal the presence of certain diseases well before any symptoms surface. High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and even cancer can often be detected due to visible changes in the eye’s structure.   

We’re here to help you determine if your vision changes are age-related or a sign of something else. Our physicians and support staff will make recommendations that meet your specific eye care needs. Call or text us today at 423-855-8522 to schedule an appointment.