Everyone understands that a person’s visual needs change as our eyes mature. What people sometimes do not realize is that vision continues to develop since the day we are born. We quantify this “Visual Development” in four (4) stages and three (3) milestones.
The Four Stages of Visual Development can be generally be thought of as follows:
- Adolescence Age Birth to 18
- Adults Years Age 18 to 45
- Middle Years Age 40 to 65
- Mature Years Age 60 +
Understanding the Four Stages of Visual Development and the visual changes accompanying each stage should assist you in making better-informed Vision Correction choices at each stage in your Visual Development.
The Three Milstones in Visual Development are generally referred to as follows:
- Ocular Maturity
- Cataract Formation
The Three Milestones in Visual Development align with stages 2, 3 and 4 and direct the discussion about Vision Correction procedures for each stage.
Adolescence Age Birth to 18
The First Stage of Visual Development is adolescence – birth to about 18 years of age. Throughout adolescence, bodies and minds undergo tremendous growth and transformation, as does the Visual Development. During grade school, eye exams are often administered to quantify, record and document the Visual Development. For most adolescents, this stage of Visual Development is normal, healthy and a glasses-free existence. However, should any deficits in Visual Development be identified, visual aids such as glasses are often prescribed and the Visual Development is more closely monitored for the duration of adolescence until a Vision Correction procedure becomes an option.
For most adolescents, glasses and contact lenses are the aid that provides a “bridge” between living with nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism in adolescence and a Vision Correction procedure to correct for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism at ocular maturity – when safe, effective, FDA approved Vision Correction procedures become available to the adolescent. In most cases, glasses and contact lenses become a part of adolescence – like braces for your teeth!
Adults Age 18 to 45
Adulthood ushers in the Second Stage of Visual Development when we reach “Ocular Maturity”. Universally accepted as age 18 to 21, ocular maturity simply stated, means an individual’s Visual Development has reached the point of relative stability over time. Vision Correction procedures for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism are now an option. Visual aids, such as glasses and contact lenses used to “bridge” adolescents to adulthood can be re-evaluated in light of Vision Correction options.
Several safe, effective, FDA approved Vision Correction procedures are available. LASIK remains the most commonly performed Vision Correction procedure at this stage of Visual Development, and rightly so. LASIK delivers a superior visual outcome, a rapid recovery period (typically one day) and an excellent choice for those living active lifestyles.
The cost benefits of Vision Correction procedures are significant. Several Vision Correction Affordability Calculators are readily available and quantify the cost savings to the average 20-something-year-old at more than $60,000 by having LASIK (or a Vision Correction procedure) in your early 20’s rather than sticking with visual aids, such as glasses and contact lenses, until age 45 – 50.
While most glasses and contact lenses wearers ARE candidates for one Vision Correction procedure or another, a few will not be candidates for their own combination of reasons. Your ophthalmologist or a refractive surgeon will perform a thorough evaluation to determine if you are a candidate or not. Vision Correction options at this stage of Visual Development are LASIK, Surface Ablation (PRK), Phakic IOL, and SMILE.
Middle Age 40 to 65
The Third Stage of Visual Development is unique and happens in our 40’s and 50’s. This is when the internal lens of the eye begins to lose the ability to focus, and glaring headlights, blurry vision, and an inability to read small print are the most notable symptoms. Regardless of whether visual aids such as glasses or contact lenses had ever been worn, or whether a Vision Correction procedure was performed years earlier, the Third Stage of Visual Development – Presbyopia – affects everyone! Presbyopia literally means “old-sighted” and the symptoms described here mean you have involuntarily “joined the club”! Dysfunctional Lens Syndrome (DLS) is another term used to describe presbyopia. The “presbyopia club” branding paraphernalia always include reading glasses (everywhere), lighting apps (for menus & dim lighting), contact lenses for monovision, and a newly employed talent for head bobbing to “manually adjust” your focal distance so as NOT to have to put on your reading glasses.
Presbyopia is part of the natural aging process. Like in adolescence, reading glasses and contact lenses are useful visual aids and satisfy the immediate visual need of presbyopia. However visual aids rarely fulfill the “lifestyle” requirement of presbyopes new to wearing visual aids.
Fortunately, the past decade has produced a variety of Vision Correction procedures and “lifestyle options” for presbyopia. To determine which Vision Correction option best suits your lifestyle, schedule a thorough evaluation with your ophthalmologist or a refractive surgeon. Vision Correction options at this stage of Visual Development are LASIK, Surface Ablation (PRK), Corneal Inlays, Refractive Lens Exchange(RLE), and MonoVision/Blended Vision procedures.
Mature Years Age 60 +
Mature adults make up the Fourth Stage of Visual Development and many continue to lead very active lifestyles well into their 80’s.
Cataract formation is the most significant symptom at this stage of Visual Development. Cataract form slowly, over many years, as the lens inside the eye gradually hardens and becomes cloudy, decreasing the amount of light naturally entering the eye. Cataract formation decreases not only the quality of one’s vision but also impacts the functional vision of the individual. Visual aids, such as glasses or contact lenses, will not “bridge” an eye with a cataract – only a Vision Correction procedure such as Refractive Cataract Surgery will provide a solution.
Mature adults, moreover insist on superior Vision Correction solutions at this stage of Visual Development. They often opt for higher quality lenses to ensure a better visual outcome. It is fair to say that excellent functional vision and a Vision Correction option that reduces or permanently eliminates a need for reading glasses have become the norm at this stage of Visual Development.
As such, options abound in Vision Correction for mature adults. To determine which Vision Correction option best suits your lifestyle, schedule a thorough evaluation with your ophthalmologist or a refractive surgeon. Options include glasses, LASIK, Surface Ablation(PRK), Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), Laser Cataract Surgery, Blended Vision, Intraocular Lenses (IOLs) and Corneal Inlays.