Your Aging Eyes – How You See as Time Goes By

Published on April 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Your Aging Eyes – How You See as Time Goes By

 

Your Aging Eyes - How You See as Time Goes By

Your Aging Eyes - How You See as Time Goes By

You may barely notice the changes at first. Maybe you’ve found yourself reaching more often for your glasses to see up close. You might have trouble adjusting to glaring lights or reading when the light is dim. You may even have put on blue socks thinking they were black. These are some of the normal changes to your eyes and vision as you age.

As more Americans head toward retirement and beyond, scientists expect the number of people with age-related eye problems to rise dramatically. You can’t prevent all age-related changes to your eyes. But you can take steps to protect your vision and reduce your risk for serious eye disease in the future. Effective treatments are now available for many disorders that may lead to blindness or visual impairment. You can also learn how to make the most of the vision you have.

“Vision impairment and blindness are among the top 5 causes of disability in older adults,” says Dr. Cynthia Owsley, an eye researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Vision changes can make it difficult to perform everyday activities, such as reading the mail, shopping, cooking, walking safely and driving. “Losing your vision may not be life-threatening, but it certainly affects your quality of life,” Owsley says.

The clear, curved lens at the front of your eye may be one of the first parts of your body to show signs of age. The lens bends to focus light and form images on the retina at the back of your eye. This flexibility lets you see at different distances—up close or far away. But the lens hardens with age. The change may begin as early as your 20s, but it can come so gradually it may take decades to notice.

Eventually, age-related stiffening and clouding of the lens affects just about everyone. You’ll have trouble focusing on up-close objects, a condition called presbyopia. Anyone over age 35 is at risk for presbyopia.

“You might find you’re holding your book farther away to read it. You might even start thinking your arms just aren’t long enough,” says Dr. Emily Chew, a clinical researcher at NIH’s National Eye Institute. “A good and simple treatment for presbyopia is reading glasses.”

Cloudy areas in the lens, called cataracts, are another common eye problem that comes with age. More than 22 million Americans have cataracts. By age 80, more than half of us will have had them. Some cataracts stay small and have little effect on eyesight, but others become large and interfere with vision. Symptoms include blurriness, difficulty seeing well at night, lights that seem too bright and faded color vision. There are no specific steps to prevent cataracts, but tobacco use and exposure to sunlight raise your risk of developing them. Cataract surgery is a safe and common treatment that can restore good vision.

The passage of time can also weaken the tiny muscles that control your eye’s pupil size. The pupil becomes smaller and less responsive to changes in light. That’s why people in their 60s need 3 times more light for comfortable reading than those in their 20s. Smaller pupils make it more difficult to see at night.

Trouble seeing at night, coupled with a normal loss of peripheral vision as you age, can affect many daily activities, including your ability to drive safely. Loss of peripheral vision increases your risk for automobile accidents, so you need to be more cautious when driving.

“Keeping older adults active and on the road as drivers, as long as they’re safely able to do so, is considered important to their health and psychological well-being,” says
Owsley. But she notes that tests for motor vehicle licenses tend to focus on visual acuity—how well you can read the letters on an eye chart.

“Visual acuity tests may not be the best way to identify drivers at risk for crashes,” she says. “Other issues are also important, like contrast sensitivity, your peripheral vision and your visual processing speed—how quickly you can process visual information and make decisions behind the wheel.”

To find better ways to assess driver safety, Owsley and her colleagues are giving 2,000 older drivers different types of vision screening tests, including tests of visual processing speed. By tracking their driving records for several years, the scientists can figure out which tests were best at predicting safe or dangerous driving, including car crashes. These findings might eventually lead to more accurate screening tests to identify potentially unsafe drivers.

If you’re not convinced you should have regular eye exams, consider that some of the more serious age-related eye diseases—like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic eye disease—may have no warning signs or symptoms in their early stages.

Glaucoma comes from increased fluid pressure inside the eye that damages the optic nerve. “Glaucoma can slowly steal your peripheral vision. You may not notice it until it’s advanced,” says Chew. It can be treated with prescription eye drops, lasers or surgery. If not treated, however, it can lead to vision loss and blindness.

AMD causes gradual loss of vision in the center of your eyesight. “AMD is the leading cause of blindness in Americans over age 65,” says Chew.

A large NIH-supported clinical study by Chew and others found that a specific combination of vitamins and minerals can prevent AMD from progressing to a more severe form. Scientists also found that people who eat diets rich in green, leafy vegetables—such as kale and spinach—or fish are less likely to have advanced AMD. A larger study of 4,000 AMD patients is now testing to see if fish oil or a vitamin/mineral combination might slow progress of the disease.

Diabetic eye disease, another leading cause of blindness, can damage the tiny blood vessels inside the retina. Keeping your blood sugar under control can help prevent or slow the problem.

The only way to detect these serious eye diseases before they cause vision loss or blindness is through a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Your eye care professional will put drops in your eyes to enlarge, or dilate, the pupils and then look for signs of disease. “Having regular comprehensive eye care gives your doctor a chance to identify a problem very early on and then treat it,” says Owsley. Annual eye exams are especially important if you have diabetes.

“Many of the healthy behaviors that help reduce your risk for long-term diseases, like heart disease and cancer, can also help to protect your eyesight,” says Owsley. These include not smoking, eating a healthy diet and controlling conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. “It’s nice to know that healthy living not only adds years to your life, but also protects your vision as you get older,” Owsley says.

Comments are closed.

Recently Published Articles / News Items

PakMed InfoForum contains more than 50,000 educational & biomedical articles/news items added in the recent two years making it one of the largest educational & biomedical information websites. In the following you can find the links to about 100 recently added articles or news items.

  • Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ali has assumed the charge of Vice Chancellor, Government College University Faisalabad
  • Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) public notice to de-notify seven universities
  • Postgradute Medical Students Alert: Pakistan Medical & Dental Council PMDC
  • Students Alert: Pakistan Medical & Dental Council PMDC
  • PMDC Approves Increased Admission Seats for Medical Colleges in Punjab
  • Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) for redefining HEC role
  • HIV positive women can have safe offspring after treatment!
  • Scam of bogus attendances of children in schools unearthed in Rawalpindi
  • Gearing up for AIDS-free generation – – AIDS Day celebrated in Lahore
  • Young Doctors Association YDA threatens to stage street show
  • Sisters on strike against Ganga Ram Hospital Lahore Medical Superintendent MS
  • KIPS students awarded at Alhamra Lahore
  • CM takes notice of admission policy of University of Karachi
  • Five new AIDS diagnostic centres in Sindh soon in Sindh
  • Aga Khan University Examination Board hosts annual high achievers awards ceremony
  • Water contamination causes 40% deaths in urban areas: moot told
  • Sindh Culture Day on 7th December 2014
  • Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah tells Education Department to prioritise development schemes
  • World AIDS Day today: Campaign ‘No syringe – need life’ launched
  • Forman Christian College Lahore turns 150 with varsity status
  • ‘System being improved for doctors’ rapid promotions’ in Punjab
  • Too much exercise can be a bad thing
  • Reforms in health sector top priority: Chief Secretary Punjab
  • Misbehaviour with polio workers not to be tolerated, saysPunjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif
  • Children’s Literature Festival Lahore concludes
  • The Environment Protection Foundation (TEPF) organises tree-plantation campaign: 450 students turn St Joseph School into a green campus
  • ‘Efforts being made to provide health facilities to masses’ in Punjab
  • Children’s Literature Festival Lahore: ‘Books and education can ease intolerance, extremism’
  • Three children die as school bus plunges into drain in Lahore
  • Three polio workers beaten up in Lahore
  • Children’s Literature Festival kicks off
  • Ivory Emporium to hold exhibition of vintage scarves next month
  • Work of Dr Aijaz Anwar, Anwar Ali showcased at the House of Nanna
  • 4,495 students given laptops in district Rawalpindi
  • Health department Punjab seeks 800 employees for polio campaign
  • Technical Education & Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) offers 16 new courses of 3 to 6 months duration
  • 5 dialysis machines donated to HFH – Rawalpindi: Organisation of Graduates of Rawalpindi Medical College (RMC)
  • Bio Sciences Dept hosts Alexander von Humboldt Alumni reunion – Forman Christian College FCC University FCCU Lahore
  • Punjab University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran stresses to value oriental languages, literature
  • Geographical Information System (GIS) students’ protest baseless: PU spokesman
  • University of the Punjab Lahore 123rd Convocation on Dec 27, 2014
  • Need to pay attention to control traffic accidents: Zulfiqar Cheema – University of the Punjab Lahore
  • Another feather in the cap of University of the Punjab Lahore: “PAKISTAN’S FIRST INTERNATIONAL PATENT” (In the field of Industrial Enzymes) Discovery of a novel and extraordinary enzyme for food industry
  • 3rd Faculty Training Program at MMG in Collaboration with LID-HEC – University of the Punjab Lahore
  • National Outreach Program (NOP) organized a seminar in collaboration with IAS (Institute of Administrative sciences) P.U on Sat 22nd November, 2014 on “Breakthrough thinking -Market Driven opportunities”
  • Change in university culture not possible without training: Punjab University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran
  • Punjab University PU to bear expenses of injured student
  • Punjab University College of Earth and Environmental Sciences (CEES) organizes seminar
  • Punjab University Centre for South Asian Studies (CSAS) PU CSAS organizes seminar
  • World Television Day 2014 mark at Punjab University Institute of Communication Studies PU ICS
  • Hungarian Ambassador calls on Punjab University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran
  • Punjab University Institute of Social and Cultural Studies PU ISCS organizes seminar
  • Visit of Punjab University Lahore delegation to Bielefeld University, Germany
  • Punjab University Institute of Social and Cultural Studies ISCS seminar on interview techniques
  • Punjab University Institute of Social and Cultural Studies PU ISCS organizes seminar on women harassment
  • Medical Entry Test (Entrance Test; MCAT) Answers Key for Admission to MBBS and BDS in Medical and Dental Colleges of Punjab Pakistan Administered by University of Health Sciences UHS Lahore Held on August 31, 2014
  • Result of Matric SSC-2 (Secondary School Certificate Part 2; Class 10th) Annual Examination 2014 of all Boards of Punjab Announced on July 25, 2014: Bahawalpur Board, D.G. Khan Board, Faisalabad Board, Gujranwala Board, Lahore Board, Multan Board, Rawalpindi Board, Sahiwal Board and Sargodha Board
  • Special summer classes in Rawalpindi colleges
  • Turkish contribution to education in Pakistan hailed
  • Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) providing free education to 1.5m needy students
  • AIOU to introduce PhD degree in mass communication
  • Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) organises seminar on safe blood transfusion
  • Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) to hold int’l woman and child health conference
  • HEC bailout package- Immediate bailout package for HEC sought
  • Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) asked to stop registering colleges
  • Govt universities appointments – SHC stays key appointments in govt universities
  • Sindh University launches mini hospital
  • USAID awards scholarships to Sindh students
  • Over 850 schools in Thatta, Sujawal closed
  • NEB exam must for medical graduates from Cuba:Pakistan Medical & Dental Council PM&DC PMDC
  • Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) upgrades its website
  • Punjab University Lahore at 1,613 in world ranking, PA told
  • Groundbreaking Ceremony ofLahore University of Management Sciences LUMS Coca-Cola Aquatic Centre
  • Lahore University of Management Sciences LUMS Alumni Reunion in Australia
  • Lahore University of Management Sciences LUMS Receives Service Appreciation Award at ‘Service Punch – 2014′
  • Lahore University of Management Sciences LUMS RWES Wins Dunya TV Shadow Budget Competition
  • EO Workshop on Personal Finance for Entrepreneurs at REDC LUMS
  • Punjab University organizes special lecture on Urdu
  • Youm-e-Takbeer a memorable day: Punjab University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran
  • Punjab University Institute of Quality & Technology Management (IQTM) organizes National Symposium
  • Punjab University Urdu Department organizes Seminar
  • IJT doing negative politics: Punjab University spokesman
  • Dengue totally under control, says minister of Punjab
  • Govt to focus on promotion of quality education: governor
  • Dengue website of Punjab gets 67,800 hits
  • All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA) condemns stoning of pregnant woman
  • Saida Waheed College of Nursing (SWCON) of FMH observes Nurses Day
  • Medical graduates returning from Cuba land in miseries
  • ‘Favouritism’ hits Punjab University Geography Department recruitments
  • Govt of Punjab to increase education, health budgets in next fiscal
  • Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) to launch shariah PhD, MS programmes
  • Chinese language course concludes atConfucius Institute of National University of Modern Languages (NUML)
  • Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) to start cessation clinic in first week of June
  • 76 young professionals ready to attend United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) scholarships
  • No Tobacco Day observed at Benazir Bhutto Hospital BBH Rawalpindi
  • Literary festival held to remember Parveen Shakir
  • Smoking kills 100,000 Pakistanis every year: Health experts for increased taxes on tobacco in budget 2014-15
  • Millions of Newborn Deaths Reported (Listen to audio report)
  • Melinda Gates Pushes to Curb Newborn Deaths
  • Melbourne Declaration Released (Listen to audio report)
  • CIA: Vaccination Programs Won’t be Used for Spying
  • WHO: Conflict, Inequality, and Economic Exclusion Threaten Health Gains
  • UN investigator: Unhealthy Food Taxes Vital to Fight Obesity
  • CSS screening test – CSS screening test ill-devised move? – Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC)
  • Summer vacation from June 1 in Punjab educational institutions
  • 500 private schools not teaching Sindhi to students: Khuhro
  • Higher Education Commission (HEC) asked to continue financial grants to universities in Sindh
  • Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET) semester exams from May 26
  • Government College University’s Endowment Fund Trust (GCU-EFT) awards Rs 8 million scholarships to 235 students
  • Botanic Garden of Government College University GCU Lahore turns 102 years
  • REDC Holds Programme on Problem Solving and Decision Making Skills – Lahore University of Management Sciences LUMS
  • Punjab University Institute of Applied Psychology (IAP) organizes special lecture
  • Punjab University Institute of Agricultural Sciences (IAGS) 3-day International Conference concludes – International Conference on “Stress Biology & Biotechnology: Challenges & Management
  • Punjab University Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics organizes exhibition on ecosystems
  • Punjab University Institute of Communication Studies – Book on Shorish Kashmiri a source of inspiration, Dr Noshina
  • Punjab University Institute of Social & Cultural Studies (ISCS) – No society can prosper without empowering women, Dr Zakria
  • Indian delegation visits Punjab University Lahore Department of Urdu
  • Punjab University Directorate of Students Affairs organizes Bilingual Declamation Contest
  • Research on agriculture a must to feed world’s population: Punjab University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran
  • Punjab Univreity organizes Sufiana/Arifana kalam and national songs competitions
  • Punjab University Lahore students win Team Trophy in Zestival-2014
  • Education For All EFA meeting vows to continue struggle for promotion of education
  • Mentally challenged patients abandoned by heirs – PIMH DMS says relatives do not follow up after admitting patient
  • SMS service launched for dengue awareness
  • German delegation visits TEVTA training facility in Mughalpura
  • Promotion of mother tongue stressed – Lahore College for Women University (LCWU)
  • Teachers refuse to become polio workers
  • Teachers to hold strike against administration today
  • Sixty cleft lip, palate children treated at week-long camp
  • Educational institutes to close for summer from June 7