Reviews in Clinical Gerontology

Review Article

Eye disease in older people

Robert MJ Purbricka1, John J Ah-Chana2 and Susan M Downesa1 c1

a1 Oxford Eye Hospital, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford

a2 MidCentral DHB Palmerston North Hospital, Palmerston North, New Zealand


Age-related changes affect all structures of the eye, and while age-related changes may influence the quality of vision, it is important to distinguish age-related physiological changes from pathological changes. This is important particularly when identifying pathological changes that may be treatable. The prevalence of visual loss increases substantially after 60 years of age and poor vision is the second most prevalent physical disability in older people. This review describes the normal ageing changes of the eye and outlines common ophthalmic diseases affecting older people. We refer to recent advances in diagnosis and treatment, and relevant current research.

Key words

  • ageing;
  • eye;
  • vision disorders;
  • macular degeneration


c1 Address for correspondence: Susan M. Downes, Oxford Eye Hospital, West Wing, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headley Way, Oxford OX3 9DU. Email: