Testing for eye diseases

Common eye diseases

What happens as you get older?

As we get older, we are more likely to develop eye disease. The most common eye diseases in older people are cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.


A cataract is where the lens in your eye becomes misty, as though you are looking through a veil or a fogged up window. If you develop cataracts, you will normally get them in both eyes, although one may be worse than the other. Developing cataracts may simply mean that your glasses need changing more often, or that you find bright lights such as sunlight more dazzling than you used to. If the cataracts become bad enough to affect your lifestyle, you can have them removed during a routine operation.

For more information see our page on cataracts.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

AMD affects your central vision and your ability to see detail. This can make it difficult to read and to recognise faces, even with your glasses. There are two types of AMD.  The dry type of AMD cannot be treated, but tends to progress slowly. The wet type of AMD can be treated and may progress quickly. Symptoms of AMD include seeing a blurry, blank or distorted patch in or near the centre of your vision. If you notice this you should contact you optometrist straight away.

For more information see our page on AMD


Glaucoma is when the pressure inside your eye causes damage to the nerve at the back of your eye. It is painless and causes no symptoms in the early stages, so it is important that you have regular eye examinations to make sure that if you have glaucoma it is detected early. You are more at risk of glaucoma if you are aged over 40, very short-sighted, of African or Caribbean origin, or closely related to someone with glaucoma. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to tunnel vision and blindness, but most people who go blind from glaucoma have their glaucoma detected at a late stage.

For more information see our page on glaucoma