Ageing and The Eyes

By 17 February 2021Blog

From the day we are born, our eye size remains the same, but that does not mean that our eyes do not change at all. As we age our eyes go through various changes and development. With each phase comes new milestones and difficulties.

Eyes during infancy

During pregnancy, the human eye is developed just two weeks after conception. At birth, a baby is colour blind but can see roughly 20 cm to 25 cm away. At 6 weeks old they are able to produce tears while they cry. The eyes start to learn to work together during the first few months of life. During this time the eyes are not particularly coordinated and may seem to wonder or be crossed. From about three months, babies should begin to follow moving objects with their eyes.

Around five months to eight months old, the eyes are able to work together to give depth perception and form a three-dimensional view of the world. If a baby’s eyes are still crossed or one eye still wonders at this point, you should seek professional advice.

From nine months onwards a baby can judge distances fairly well.

Eyes during primary school years

If any visual skills are lacking or not functioning properly, a child will have to work harder at school. This can lead to headaches, fatigue and other eye strain problems. Even though some schools do offer visual screening, it is still a good idea to schedule an eye exam with an ophthalmologist or optometrist in the first few years of school.

Eyes during adolescence and young adulthood years

During the teen years, children start needing prescription eyewear. This is mainly due to this being a prime time for the development of nearsightedness, i.e the inability to see objects at a distance. Adolescence and young adult years should be the beginning of building the habit of seeing an eye doctor annually.

Eyes during the later years

Just as our physical strength decreases with age, our eyes also exhibit an age-related decline in performance. Some age-related eye changes are perfectly normal and don’t signify any sort of disease process. Some, however, will experience more serious age-related eye diseases that have greater potential for affecting the quality of life. These conditions include glaucoma and macular degeneration.

40’s – Once you enter your 40’s it will become quite noticeable that it is harder to focus on objects up close. This is due to presbyopia, which is a perfectly normal loss of focusing ability due to hardening of the lens inside your eye.  The risk for developing age-related eye diseases also increases.

50’s – You may notice the need for more frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions. You may also find that a single prescription is no longer the best solution for all your visual needs.

60’s & 70’s – Cataracts are considered an age-related eye disease, but they are so common among seniors that they can also be classified as a normal ageing change. Cataracts can begin as early as in your 50’s. As you enter your 70s, the chance of developing a cataract is even higher.

Ageing is a part of life and our eyes are also affected. If you have any concerns it is best to give your eye doctor a call. Below are two major age-related eye diseases that affect many people and are leading causes of blindness across the world:

  • Macular degeneration– Also called age-related macular degeneration or AMD.
  • Glaucoma– Your risk of developing glaucoma increases with each decade after age 40, from around 1% in your 40s to up to 12% in your 80s.

If you would like to get in touch with us at the Sandton Eye Clinic please emails us at or give us a call during business hours on 011 884 5624.

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