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Looking after our eyesight is important. Our eyes can get us through our whole lifetime if we look after them. Our eyesight deteriorates as we age and we are more likely to use glasses or contact lenses. To look after our eyes, it is recommended that everyone has an eye check every two years or more frequently if they have a condition which affects their eyes.

A regular eye check-up at the opticians is a good idea and the tests are free for everyone over the age of 60 (or younger if you have certain health conditions or are in receipt of various support for health costs. (Claim for help with health costs NHS: HC1form).

As we grow older the lens in our eyes becomes stiffer. Therefore it is less able to focus and so activities such as reading, get more difficult and we are more likely to need glasses. You may also be able to get help with the cost of glasses and you can check on the same HC1 form.

Driving

If you drive you do have to renew your licence at 70 and every three years afterwards. This involves filling out a form and making a self-report assessment to the DVLA (https://www.gov.uk/renew-driving-licence-at-70 ). You do not need to take another driving test but have to confirm:

  • whether you have any medical condition which may compromise your driving
  • confirm that you can accurately read a number plate from 65 feet ( 20 metres)

 

Eye care is so important: What early warning signs should I be looking out for?

If you have any sudden change in your vision or pain in your eye you should visit an optician or eye specialist promptly.

What are the most common eye conditions in over 55’s?

  • Cataracts
  • Macular degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Eye changes related to diabetes

Things to look out for:

Cataracts

It is common for the eye lens to get a bit cloudy as we grow older. If a person is developing a cataract they might notice blurring in the vision of one or both eyes, lights might seem to be too bright and vision may be decreased in low light. This can be a slow process and your optician will suggest you see your GP or an eye specialist for further care.

Macular degeneration

Symptoms of macular degeneration may include increasing blurring of vision, a blob shape or a blank spot in the centre of your vision, straight lines appearing wavy, fading colours, and sensitivity to bright light. These changes can occur in one eye and later the other. It is important to get an eye test quickly if you notice such changes in your vision as there are treatments for some forms of macular degeneration and some practical changes that help such as stopping smoking, watching diet and weight.Early diagnosis and treatment is important.

Glaucoma

This is due to increased pressure in the fluid in your eye which can damage the nerve at the back it. Some people have a family history of glaucoma. There may be no symptoms but it is checked for at any routine eye check-up at the opticians, which is one of the reasons it is good to occasionally get your eye health checked.

Eye changes associated with Diabetes

All people with diabetes are asked to take part in regular screening at local NHS diabetic screening services which are free. This particularly checks the retina (the back surface of the eye) where the tiny blood vessels can be affected by diabetes. Early diagnosis and treatment is important to minimise any risk of damage to your vision. 

There are many organisations and charities which have information and support available including:

Macular Society   www.macularsociety.org

Royal College of Ophthalmologists

www.rcophth.ac.uk/patients/information-booklets

The College of Optometrists  www.college-optometrists.org/

Royal National Institute of Blind People www.rnib.org.uk         

International Glaucoma Association

sightline@iga.org.uk