Aging Eye: Problems that Affect Acuity and Contrast Sensitivity

Theodore Grosvenor, OD, PhD, FAAO

COPE #16554-GO

Expires April 1, 2009

3 credits, $59

Section: Geriatric Optometry


When I was asked to prepare courses on the aging eye, I was reminded of the book by that name written some forty years ago by R. A. Weale, Head of the Department of Physiological Optics at the Institute of Ophthalmology in London (1). In this book, Weale took a broad approach to the age-related changes that occur in the eye, including ocular morphology; refraction; visual thresholds; spatial and temporal resolution; spectral sensitivity; and color vision.

In my course on this subject, I will follow Weale's lead and also take a broad approach to the effects of aging on vision and the eye. Although optometrists currently tend to be concerned mainly with disease-related conditions that can cause severe vision impairment or blindness, there are many relatively subtle - but nevertheless important - age-related changes that affect almost everyone beyond the age of 45 or 50-years.

This course will focus on changes in refractive error, retinal illumination, visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, problems with the lacrimal system, and age-related cataracts. Although cataracts have traditionally been considered as a major cause of age-related vision loss, it is fortunate that in countries where the current 'no-stitch' cataract surgery with phaco-emulsification, followed by the implantation of an IOL is available -- including the United States, Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand -- cataracts may be considered as a 'temporary' loss of visual acuity.