One in four Kiwis struggling vision getting 'much worse' as they age - study

woman squinting
Feel your vision declining? You're not alone. Photo credit: Getty.

Speaking from experience, it can be a scary time when your vision starts declining. If you've ever been driving and struggled to see a red light or a stop sign, you'll know the feeling. 

But you're not alone. New research shows that 1.6 million Kiwis over the age of 40 admit that they have noticed their vision worsening over the past decade, with one in four (27 percent) saying their vision is "much worse".

The study from Specsavers revealed that half of those over 40 have also experienced tired eyes, struggled to see something on their mobile phone, tablet, or computer screen or have struggled to read.

But a third haven't had their eyes tested in years.

The rapid decline isn't just annoying - if you drive regularly, it can risk the lives of those around you. 

AA spokesperson Dylan Thomsen says being able to see what's happening on the road around you is a vital part of road safety.

"If people are having any trouble seeing when they are on the road it's a real concern and they should have their eyes professionally checked straight away," says Thomsen.

Around 43 percent of New Zealanders are required to wear corrective lenses while driving.

"If you are required to wear glasses when you're driving you need to do so every time - even if it's just a short trip. 

"Unpredictable things happen on the road and seeing what's going on clearly and quickly is going to give you the best chance of reacting to anything unexpected."

Specsavers optometrist Ayah Hadi says the results are unsurprising.

"From around the age of 40, the natural lens within the eye which allows us to see clearly up close and far away naturally starts to lose its elasticity, affecting our ability to focus at near. Many of my patients who never needed glasses when they were younger find that they need reading glasses as they get older."

Of those that have been prescribed glasses or contact lenses by an optometrist, half have admitted that they don't wear them as often as they should. Hadi says that it takes people time to accept that the changes that they are experiencing are normal.

"Presbyopia is something that affects almost everyone. It may be that all you need is a pair of

prescription reading glasses, multifocal or contact lenses to make reading easier. Your optometrist will be able to make a recommendation on the best option for you and your lifestyle."