The 5 eye conditions that can threaten your sight after 50

Posted on: 25 April 2019 by 50connect editorial

Your vision changes as you age and while some conditions are part of the ageing process some are more serious require treatment to protect your sight.


There are approximately 2 million people living with sight loss in the UK today. Inevitably, age plays a role in the onset of conditions that can threaten eyesight.

Just like the rest of the body, eyes show a drop in productiveness as they age. Age-related eye problems are very common and most people find they rely on reading glasses after they pass the 50 year milestone.

Here we explore the five most common causes of sight loss for individuals aged 50 and above.



Cataracts affects roughly 30% of the population aged 65 and over in the UK. The formation of a cataract is gradual and if left untreated can cause complete sight loss.

A cataract refers to the clouding of the lens and is often described as looking through frosted glass.

Age is usually the culprit for the formation of a cataract; however there are a few additional factors associated. People who have diabetes, have a family history of cataracts, smoke, are exposed to ultraviolent light and who suffer severe inflammation of the eye are considered high risk.

The good news is that there is treatment for cataracts. In fact it is the most commonly performed procedure in the world.

Refractive Lens Exchange is the removal of the natural lens in replace of an artificial one. The cataract is removed with the lens and eliminates the chance of a cataract forming again.

The procedure corrects long-sightedness, short-sightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia; alongside the cataract removal.



As the eyes age the lens gradually hardens and loses its elasticity. This process is known as presbyopia and typically starts to develop after the age of 50.

Think of the lens like a balloon that is blown up and deflated. Over time the balloon will gradually lose its springiness. This is the same process as presbyopia.

Those living with presbyopia will experience difficulty focusing on objects up close and tend to hold objects at arm’s length to be able to focus better – sound familiar?

Additional symptoms include headaches, eye strain and fatigue when performing close work.

There are several options to treat presbyopia including the use of reading glasses, bifocals, and contact lenses. For those looking for a permanent fix, Refractive Lens Exchange is recommended.

Age related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration refers to the deterioration of the central part of the retina (light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) called the macula.

It is one of the leading causes of vision loss in individuals aged 60 and above; accounting for roughly 600,000 people in the UK. Symptoms include decreased quality of vision, blurry central vision and reduced colour distinction.

There are two types of macular degeneration, wet type and dry type. Whilst there is no cure for dry macular degeneration, the wet type can be treated with injections, Retinal Laser Photocoagulation, Implantable Contact Lenses or Monofocal Lens Replacements.



Glaucoma occurs when there is a high amount of pressure inside the eye due to the eye’s drainage system becoming clogged. This stops the eye’s fluid from draining effectively and can result in complete vision loss.

There are two different types of glaucoma:

Open Angle Type: This is most common and tends to cause no symptoms during the early stage, leading to ‘tunnel vision’ if untreated.

Closed Angle Type: less common. Can cause headaches, eye pain and sudden loss of vision.

Treatment will not reverse any loss of vision, but it can prevent vision from regressing further. This includes eye drops, medicines, laser or surgery.


Diabetic retinopathy

According to charity Diabetes UK, one in ten people aged 40 and over have type 2 diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes, caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye (retina).

If you have diabetes, it's important to be aware of the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, which include blurred vision, trouble with night vision and dark spots in central vision. It can take several years for diabetic retinopathy to reach the point where it threatens your sight.

The main treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy are laser treatment, eye injections and surgery to removes scar tissue.

More information

If you are affected by any of the conditions mentioned in this article or have been considering eye surgery talk to Ultralase Eye Clinics Ltd today.

0800 988 3691

[email protected]

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