The Changing Eye

PUBLISHED: 09:38 26 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:44 20 February 2013

The Changing Eye

The Changing Eye

Regular check-ups are important to catch any problems early. Get some sound advice from the experts!

Your eyes are amazing devices, but as with a lot of things, eyes are often taken for granted until something goes wrong. Yet by understanding how the eye changes during our lifetime, we can better prepare ourselves for what we can do about it when things suddenly become unclear!


Vision is one of the least developed senses at birth. Newborn babies have poor vision and can see only about 20-38cm away. By 2 years old the eyes are working together, the child can see properly and start enjoying a colourful life.

Year 3-9

Hand-eye coordination is an important milestone in your child's development and being able to see what is being thrown your way clearly always helps! After the age of 9 the development of the eye is virtually complete. That's why it's vital to have an eye examination early to pick up any issues which can then be dealt with sooner rather than later.

The teen years

The eye has new and exciting demands placed on it; from the XBox and computer to driving! Bad eyesight is not necessarily inherited, so whether other family members wear glasses or not, regular eye examinations are still vital.


Well, 21 is the optimum age for the eye, and sorry to say but after this time it is downhill all the way. However, most deterioration will be minimal and gradual until middle age.


This is probably the first time that a lot of people start to realise that things are changing. Lots of denial occurs around now when the print becomes too small to read and the lighting just isn't good enough... sound familiar? These are the consequences of presbyopia or, in simple terms, ageing of the eye. It happens to everyone.

So what takes place during this unavoidable process? Basically the lens of the eye loses its elasticity which means that it is harder to see things close to. Hence the 'tromboning' effect where you move the print back and forth in front of you to get it into focus.

I always tell my patients there are now two choices. Either you get glasses to help with reading and the headaches and eye strain disappear, or you don't get glasses and continue to struggle, and things will still get worse anyway. I know which I'd choose!

Unfortunately as you continue to get older so your struggling is likely to become worse, and several trips will normally need to be made to the opticians as things get progressively harder. We can't predict the rate of change but may now recommend more frequent examinations.


At this age separate glasses may well be required for TV/driving, computer and reading. Varifocals combine all three of your requirements into one pair of glasses making life hassle-free again.


By 65 most people have some degree of cataract, which is where the lens in your eye becomes less clear, a bit like a window that needs a clean. Changing your glasses often counters the problem. When necessary referral via your opticians for cataract surgery is a very simple process.

The eye is so complicated that unfortunately things can go wrong. However, this is relatively rare and if caught early enough most problems can be treated, so get that appointment booked.

James & Alison Harwood, Optometrists, Optika Opticians, Weston-super-Mare 01934 642909.

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