From infancy through to adulthood, our eyes are constantly evolving. As a result, you will notice changes in your quality of vision as you get older. Vision changes happen to people at different points in life, which is why it’s so important to understand how the eyes evolve at different stages, and what can be done to take care of our eyes to prevent eye injury and disease. This guide will help you to understand how your vision develops over time.
Eyesight in infancy
At birth, although it may look like your child is staring intently at you, this is in fact from fuzzy eyes. Babies can best focus on objects around 8-10 inches from their face, as they come to terms with how to coordinate their eyes to move together. This happens in the first couple of months of their life, as they begin to explore how visually stimulating the world is. Eyesight in infancy is arguably the most important stage of development for your vision, as the first two years of life is when most of the changes to vision occur.
Tests for babies
Good vision is very important to children because so much of what they learn is taken in through their eyes. So it's never too early to start your child's eyecare. You'll find most infants and pre-school children have regular vision screening as part of their routine developmental checks. These early checks are invaluable, but aren't as thorough as a full eye examination by a qualified optometrist.
When your child is born, the paediatrician will check their vision when they are still in the hospital ward. It is very rare for there to be any problem with a newborn's vision. A newborn's eye is about 75% of the size of an adult eye, and it will continue to develop for the first two years of life.
Tests for toddlers
We advise that children should have their first eye examination at around three years old. Learning difficulties can sometimes be caused by uncorrected vision problems, so the earlier they can be detected, the better the chance of correcting them.
What's more, at Specsavers Opticians, the test is designed to be friendly and fun for kids of all ages.
It's important to remember that eye examinations won't hurt your child, and that your child doesn't have to be able to read yet. First, the optician will ask about any family eyesight problems and whether the child has any difficulty playing games, looking at pictures or seeing small objects. Then several child-friendly tests will be undertaken, after which the optician will discuss the results with you.
Eyesight in Early School Years
During the first 12 years of our lives, as much as 80% of learning is accomplished through our vision. Yet, one out of every four children has an undetected vision problem that may inhibit their progress. It can be difficult to spot. Children have no way of knowing if what they see is any different from what others can see. But there are a number of tell-tale signs you can look out for, for example: is your child sitting too close to the TV; do they rub their eyes repeatedly; are they clumsy; do they squint?
If you maintain a regular routine of eye examinations, however, you can minimise the chance of an eye or sight defect being carried into adulthood.
Children’s glasses built to last
Children's glasses are specifically designed to fit small faces. There are lots of features and special lenses you can choose to ensure their glasses fit comfortably and will survive the rough and tumble of a busy active life. Your child's new glasses will be fitted and adjusted to ensure they are comfortable to wear. They'll also be given a free case in which to keep them when not being worn, and a lens cleaning cloth.
Play safe and stay safe
Children will always get into scrapes, so it is important they learn how to take care of their eyes. Teach your child how to play safely, and ensure they play only with toys that are suitable for their age. Any games that involve hard objects or balls should be supervised, and avoid activities that use projectiles, such as pea-shooters or pellet guns. When sports or activities call for safety goggles to be worn, make sure your child wears them. Remember, dangerous materials should be kept safely out of reach – this includes household cleaners, sprays, glues, chemicals, knives and scissors.
Vision as a teenager
It's very important for young people to get into the habit of having regular eye examinations. During adolescent years, any vision problems that evolved as a child start to manifest and become more severe. It’s important to note the importance of regular eye tests to keep on track with how your vision is changing. Uncorrected vision problems can affect all aspects of their lives: their studies at school or university; their job; even their social life or ability to play sport.
Glasses for teens
It seems teenagers either love something or hate it. So when it comes to glasses it's important to give them choices to allow them to get the look they want. We have a wide variety of frames in our children's range. Or they might find something to suit them in our adult styles. Whatever they decide, we're sure they'll find a fashionable look.
Contacts for teens
In their mid-to-late teens, many kids start clamouring for contact lenses, either for occasional or regular wear. These are now available in a wide range of prescriptions. You can learn more about the types of contact lenses here. If your child is unsure as to whether to get glasses or contacts, they can try contact lenses for free, first.
Adults and Pregnancy
We're sure this is a very exciting time for you, especially if it's your first child. Of course, your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, and your eyes can be affected too. Fluctuations in hormone levels can lead to dry eyes, blurred or distorted vision, or spots and floaters.
Don't worry if you experience any of these problems. The chances are they developed naturally and will disappear in the same way after childbirth.
But it's always important to visit your optician or GP if you do have any problems, just in case it's a symptom of something other than hormonal changes. You can visit our eye conditions hub to find out more about eye conditions and symptoms.
As a parent, you can spend so much time worrying about your child's health that you forget about your own. We believe it's important that you have regular sight tests. Of course, some eye problems run in the family, so identifying any problems you may have will also benefit your children. So next time you make an appointment for your son or daughter, why not book a time for yourself as well.
Glasses aren't toys — but kids don't know that! They seem to like nothing better than grabbing your glasses off your face, or playing with them when they find them lying around the house. No problem. You can wear glasses with flexible frames, which retain their shape even after being bent and twisted, and choose scratch resistant lenses. Explore our full range of glasses here, or book an appointment and we can help to choose the right pair for you.
Contacts for adults
Practical and now affordable, contact lenses are ideal for those with busy lives. Modern lenses are comfortable and easy to look after. Specsavers easyvision range has lenses to suit all lifestyles. These are now available in a wide range of prescriptions. We want to make sure your eyes stay happy and healthy when wearing contact lenses, so if you’re unsure, take a look at our contact lens guide for top tips and expert advice.
Vision over 40
At around the age of 40, our eyes start to change. These changes might be subtle and not produce any noticeable problems. However, our eyes can begin to struggle and present more obvious changes in our eyesight. More specifically, it is common for people to struggle with seeing at close distances - this is known as Presbyopia. Presbyopia, or blurred near vision, affects everyone sooner or later. Don't panic - you just need an eye test to determine which eyewear is right for you.
If you need one prescription for distance vision and another for close work, then bifocals could be the answer. Two different strengths in the same lens means you won’t have to worry about carrying two pairs of glasses with you.
Varifocals give you all the benefits of different prescriptions in the same lens, but without the tell-tale line that bifocals can have. Varifocal lenses have a gradual change from your distance prescription to your close-up one, so they look just like ordinary glasses and you can use them for work, driving and when you go out.
Reading glasses or contact lenses?
When you need a little help to focus on the newspaper or your latest book, reading glasses offer a simple solution. With a prescription that helps keep the words pin-sharp, you can carry on enjoying the crossword or your favourite author. When wearing glasses isn’t convenient, try our contact lenses. For sports or active recreation, or for when you want to change your outfit, our comfortable contact lenses give you more options. You can even have them with varifocal prescriptions. If you need eyewear but don’t know what type will be best for you, book an appointment and your optician will recommend various options.
Vision over 60
At the stage in your life when you are likely to have more free time for hobbies, activities, family and friends, it would be a shame if poor eyesight meant you couldn’t enjoy it to the full. Though your vision is likely be changing as part of the natural ageing process, regular check-ups, friendly advice and correct eyewear can help you retain the best possible quality of vision. Eye examinations are quick and simple and we have a wide range of bifocals and varifocals to suit your requirements, so there’s no need to be restricted by blurred vision.
Common eye conditions
The eye conditions listed below are commonly found in over-60s:
- Cataracts - The lens becomes opaque, blurring vision and even leading to loss of sight if left untreated. Early on, the condition may cause near-sightedness and the reduction in perception of blue colours. Surgery is the most effective way to restore vision.
- Diabetic retinopathy - Diabetes can cause tiny blood vessels to leak or burst, blurring sight and leaving dark spots on the field of vision. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent loss of sight.
- Floaters - Tiny ‘spots’ or ‘blobs’ in the field or vision are often just harmless clusters of cells and will disappear without worry. If they persist, it is worth checking with an optician, however, as they may be a sign of another condition.
- Glaucoma - A build-up of fluid within the eye can increase pressure, which in turn damages the optic nerve. The loss of visual field often occurs gradually and slowly, and may be recognised by the sufferer only when at an advanced stage. This loss of vision can never be recovered, so prompt diagnosis is essential. Treatment is via simple eye drops.
- Macula degeneration - In older people, the macula – the centre of the retina which is used for detailed vision – thins and occasionally bleeds. This can lead to distortion of, or even the loss of, central vision. The sufferer may also have trouble discerning colours. Peripheral vision remains unaffected, but central vision loss is serious, so early diagnosis and treatment is vital.
Taking care of your eyes
As we age, our eyes become more susceptible to certain problems. Visiting your optician regularly can help diagnose and treat these conditions early, as waiting until a problem is noticeable may be too late. Visit our eye conditions hub for more information, and if you present any of the symptoms for these, request an appointment with your optician.