The aging process affects every part of your body, including your eyes. From wrinkled skin around your eyes to age-related eye conditions like macular degeneration and presbyopia, there are many ways your eyes may be affected as you age. Fortunately, some of these conditions can be reversed or even prevented by following a solid treatment plan from your eye doctor.
In this post, Clearfinity Eyecare Optometrist discusses the question of reversing the effects of aging on your eyes. Age-Related Eye Changes
Your pupils expand when you’re in a dark room and get smaller when you enter a brighter space. The muscle that controls your pupil size can weaken as you grow older, causing your pupil to become smaller and less responsive to ambient lighting changes. Due to these changes, individuals who are over 60 require on average three times the amount of ambient light for comfortable reading than younger people. Seniors are also more sensitive to bright sunlight and glare when going from a dark area to a brighter one. Wearing eyeglasses with photochromic lenses and an anti-reflective coating can aid in minimizing this symptom.
Peripheral vision loss also comes with aging. The size of the visual field decreases at around one to three degrees per decade of life. By the time you reach your 70s or 80s, you may have lost 20 to 30 degrees of your peripheral vision. This means you need to be more careful while driving as peripheral vision loss increases the risk of accidents. You can increase your range of vision by turning your head and looking both ways when making a turn or switching lanes.
Retinal cells that are responsible for color vision become less sensitive as you age. This can make colors appear muted and less contrasted, especially blue hues. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for age-related loss of color perception. The gel-like vitreous inside the eye starts to liquefy and pull away as you age, which can cause spots, floaters and flashes of light.
Common Age-Related Eye Problems
People who are over the age of 40 may experience difficulty focusing on objects up close due to the age-related refractive error known as presbyopia. This problem can be easily corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contacts.
These are small spots or specks that drift within your field of vision. You’re more likely to notice them in bright spaces, like a room with fluorescent lighting or when you step outside on a sunny day. While they are usually harmless, in some cases they can indicate more serious eye issues, especially if they’ve suddenly increased. You may have a detached retina if you see floaters together with flashes of light. See your eye doctor immediately if you notice a dramatic change in the number of spots and flashes you see.
Cataracts form gradually and often without pain, redness or tearing. They are cloudy areas that cover a portion of the eye. A healthy eye has a clear lens that allows light to pass through and be reflected onto the retina, which processes images. Cataracts obstruct the lens and cause vision difficulties. Your eye specialist can remove cataracts through surgery and replace your lens with an artificial one.
Your eyes may produce excessive amounts of tears due to light sensitivity or temperature changes. You can protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses. If this doesn’t ease the problem, then you may be suffering from a more serious condition.
People with cataracts or other eye problems may experience watery eyes, pain, redness or a halo effect in their vision. Infection and injury are common causes of corneal problems. In many cases, these issues can be treated by changing the prescription of your glasses or contact lenses or using eye drops. However, surgery may be necessary for more severe cases.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome occurs when your eyes don’t produce enough tears. Sufferers usually feel a stinging or burning sensation or feel like there’s something in their eye. It’s more prevalent in older individuals, especially in women. Your eye doctor may suggest using a humidifier, artificial tears or ointment for dry eye treatment.
Glaucoma develops due to excessive fluid pressure in the inside of the eye. When left untreated, it can lead to vision loss and blindness. This eye disease is typically asymptomatic in the early stages, which is why it’s sometimes called “the silent thief of sight.” To ensure glaucoma is caught at an early stage, it’s essential that you undergo regular comprehensive eye exams. Glaucoma can be treated using prescription eye drops, lasers or conventional surgery.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
AMD can affect the sharp central vision necessary to view objects clearly and drive safely. Your eye doctor will check for signs of AMD during a dilated eye exam.
You may experience this eye problem if you have diabetes. It develops gradually and is usually asymptomatic at first. Make sure to get your eyes checked at least once a year if you have diabetes. Maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels can help prevent diabetic retinopathy or slow its progression. In some cases, laser surgery can prevent it from getting worse. Ways to Help Reverse Eye Aging
According to UCLA researchers, 48 percent of American women have difficulty focusing and experience blurred vision. This is often triggered by spending hours focusing on close objects, such as a book, laptop or smart phone. Your eyes need exercise like other parts of your body to remain strong.
Researchers at England’s Aston University have found that a simple exercise can eliminate eyestrain. Hold your thumb six inches from your eyes and focus on it while taking deep breaths. Then, change your focus to an object that’s at least 10 feet away and take another deep breath. Alternate your gaze between your thumb and the distant object for a minute. Do this exercise every half hour when you’re reading a book or using a computer.
Eat Leafy Greens
Lutein is a yellowish pigment that is absorbed by eye tissues and functions like a natural sunscreen. Consuming foods that are rich in lutein can lower your risk of vision loss, cataracts and macular degeneration. You can get lutein from leafy greens like spinach and kale. Lutein can also improve your nighttime vision and make it easier for you to adapt to sudden changes in lighting, which makes night driving safer. If you don’t like eating leafy greens, consuming 12 eggs in a week can offer a similar lutein boost.
Take Vitamins and Supplements
Consuming 2,000mg of fish oil and 1,000mg of vitamin C daily offers protection from cataracts, macular degeneration and vision loss. According to one study, taking these nutrients daily reduces your risk of eye strain, blurry vision and eye fatigue by 25 percent.
The fats in fish oil can reduce eye inflammation, while vitamin C is an antioxidant that kills free radicals before they can cause premature aging of the lens of the eye. Depending on your doctor’s recommendation, you can take 500mg of vitamin C twice a day and fish oil once daily with a meal, as it’s it is absorbed better with dietary fats.