How can we promote healthy aging?
- Posted on: Jan 29 2020
We often don’t sense the changes in our eyes until it is too late.
Our skin doesn’t stay young forever and in the same sense, our eyes begin to go through natural changes as we age, too.
It’s time to stay informed about the health of our eyes as we age.
As our eyes begin to go through natural changes after about the age of 40, vision is often affected as different parts of the eye succumb to the aging process. In one example, the lens inside your eye, through which light passes and allows you to see, slowly becomes less flexible. When it loses flexibility, it becomes harder to focus on objects, especially at a specific distance. In most cases, it is the near distance, the reading distance, that is affected. The lens is no longer able to focus on small prints and objects within reading distance. This is usually the first and most common eye problem experienced due to aging, called presbyopia.
Presbyopia eventually affects almost everyone sometime after the age of 40 and is a very natural condition.To accommodate the changes that the eye is going through, reading glasses are prescribed so that you may see things clearly close-hand. Simple glasses that you wear while reading are the most common option. However, if you are nearsighted and you don’t want the hassle of two pairs of glasses (distance and reading), you may need to upgrade to a bifocal pair or progressive of glasses that incorporate both a distance prescription and a reading prescription into one lens. Easy and convenient! One warning, however! Those glasses may sometimes require some extra time for your eyes to get used to.
In a second example, the same lens that can lose flexibility as you age can also lose its transparency and become cloudy. With age, the regular proteins of the lens begin to break down and cause the lens to cloud. Your vision may appear blurry or drained of color, as if looking through a yellowed, foggy window. This is an extremely common age-related condition called cataracts. Aside from aging, it has been found that prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light may play a role in cataract formation. In addition, studies have shown that people who smoke or have certain medical problems, such as diabetes, have a higher risk of developing cataracts.
Luckily, the procedure to remove the aged natural lens, called cataract surgery, is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States and carries a 98% success rate to restore functional vision. In this procedure a clear, artificial lens in placed into the eye to replace the old, foggy lens and grant you clear vision again. Interestingly enough, it has been found that cataract surgery correlates with a decrease in falls. Let’s stay safe by paying attention to our visual needs.
Diseases of the Eye
Aging also increases the risk of ocular diseases. The elderly are at a higher risk of diseases such as glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration. It is important to regularly visit your eye doctor so that you can be properly screened for ocular diseases. Tests such as the OCT (takes a photo of the optic nerve and macula) and visual field (tests your peripheral vision) assist the doctors in diagnosing such diseases and monitoring them over time. These tests are important for the doctors to be able to begin treatments and provide the best visual outcome for your situation.
Some diseases, like age-related macular degeneration, are not entirely curable, but doctors can prescribe nutritional supplements, ocular vitamins, and diet changes to reduce the progression of the disease. Diets of leafy green vegetables have a positive effect on slowing progression. Even if you are not diagnosed with an ocular disease, a proper diet and nutritional supplements can be good for your entire body.
Aging affects on the moisture levels in our eyes. Having dry eye disease means that there is something wrong with the tear film of your eye. The tear film is a complex combination of different layers, which include water, oil and mucus. Each of the three layers in typical tear films come from different sources, therefore disruption to any of these sources can affect lubrication and lead to dry eye. Tears may not being produced in the same quantity or quality and can lead to dry eye. Symptoms of dry eye may include dryness, itching, burning, tearing, redness, a sandy feeling in the eye, a foreign body feeling, vision that clouds or clears with blinking, and general eye discomfort.
Dry eye may be treated with medications, oil gland care, tear duct punctal plugs, stem cell treatment, or IPL for dry eyes.
It is important to use artificial tear drops to keep your eye lubricated if it feels dry to minimize the dangers of dry eye.
Aging most visibly affects the skin.The body produces collagen naturally and it is in abundance when we are young, but unfortunately, production starts to decline at about age 25 and continues. It decreases even more in women after menopause. Collagen also decreases with other factors such as smoking, sugar and ultraviolet rays. This decrease leads to wrinkles and sagging skin. There is no way to prevent collagen decreases in the body and the skin is less elastic and prone to sagging or drooping. Complains of drooping eyelids, a condition called dermatochalasis, are common after the age of 55. Sometimes, the lids may droop enough to hood the eyes, sometimes obstructing vision and the field of view. If the drooping lids become a growing concern, an effective treatment option is the eyelid lift surgery, called blepharoplasty.
It’s important to keep track of our health as we age, so make an appointment for an eye exam if you notice any changes in your vision or you would like to be proactive about your visual health. If you live in or around Brooklyn, New York, and are interested in learning more about our vision services, call us at 718-676-6464 today.
Tagged with: aging eye, Cataract, cataract exam, cataract surgery, dry eye, dry eyes, eye care, eye exam, eye surgery, glasses, glaucoma, itchy eyes, macula, macular degeneration, near vision, nearsightedness, ophthalmologist, presbyopia, reading glasses, red eyes, redness, signs of aging, tearing