Vision loss in ageing eyes

02 Mar 2014

The ageing process takes its toll on the various tissues found in the eye, which can result in a partial vision loss or in more serious cases total blindness.

Conditions affecting eyesight, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy and presbyopia are becoming more prevalent as the population in Northern Ireland continues to age, with the vast majority of these eye problems developing after the age of 50.

The eye is affected by the ageing process

The human eye is a remarkable organ that receives and processes incoming light before converting it into chemical and electrical signals that are sent to the brain to allow us to see.

Made up of an array of important tissues that support the vision process both directly and indirectly, the eye must bend light that enters the eye through the cornea so that it can land directly on the central point of the retina, known as the macula.

As the eye ages, it can often lose some of its focusing power, develop sight-threatening conditions or become affected by other medical conditions, such as diabetes.

Age-related Macular Degeneration

AMD is a condition that slowly causes permanent damage to the macula which eventually results in a total loss in central vision.

There are two types of AMD:

Wet AMD– The membrane under the retina thickens and eventually tears causing abnormal blood vessels to develop. These blood vessels are susceptible to leaking which can speed up sight loss.

Dry AMD– Cells known as retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE) are broken down resulting in a loss of central vision and colour perception.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes can severely damage tissues in the eye and cause a variety of problems to develop, but one of the more common conditions associated with diabetes is Diabetic Retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy occurs when blood vessels in the retina become damaged. These vessels swell and leak fluid or sometimes die completely leading to a dramatic loss in vision acuity or blindness.


When the eye becomes less able to focus on objects up close and near vision appears blurry, this may be a symptom of presbyopia.

With age, the lens behind the cornea becomes stiff and inflexible it can no longer change its shape to accommodate vision at short distances.

Everyday tasks such as reading are normally affected, but the condition is easily treatable with prescription lenses.

Alternatively at Optilase Northern Ireland, presbyopic patients who prefer not to wear glasses can have a corneal inlay implanted in one eye, much like a contact lens to correct near vision permanently.

To find out more about treating presbyopia, book your free consultation at one of our clinics in Belfast, Newry or Derry/Londonderry on 08000 121 565.

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