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Why does Glare affect us more as we age?

May 26, 2013

Glare is the difficulty seeing in the presence of bright light, such as direct or reflected sunlight, or artificial light such as that of car headlamps at night.  An excessive amount of glare prevents the task from being completed well and will also lead to eyestrain.


Glare may increase as we age. There are several causes of this:

(1)    Cataract

Cataract is the opacity in the natural lens of the eye. When we are young, the lens is clear but this lens will slowly opacify over the years and block our view. The uneven opacification of the lens will distort the light rays entering the eye and cause an increase in glare.

(2)    Dry eyes

The presenting symptom of dry eyes is not usually glare – symptoms of dry eyes include itchy, scratchy or burning sensations in the eyes. However, dry eyes will cause our tear film (the layer of tears at the front of our eyes) to be uneven. This will then distort the light entering our eyes.

Dry eyes occur commonly in people who are more senior. Should you experience symptoms of dry eyes, please lubricate your eyes with lubricant eye drops.

(3)    Change in refractive error (spectacle power)

A change in refractive error is as common in adults as it is in children. But when it does increase and we are not wearing prescriptive glasses of the correct power, the focus is poor and can lead to more glare.

If you experience an increase in glare over the years, please see your optometrist to check on your eyes. A simple change in prescription to the appropriate pair of glasses or sunglasses may be all that is needed. If these measures do not help, the next step is to visit your eye doctor (ophthalmologist) to rule out other conditions.

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