As we age, our eyes will go through different changes just like the rest of the body. You can’t run as fast, jump as high, and you wake up the morning stiff and you need time to get going. With eyes, the aging changes begin to be noticed when you are in your 40s. One of the first references of people having decreased vision is found in the Bible.
Genesis 27:1 NLT
One day when Isaac was old and turning blind,
He had most likely developed cataracts.
As we age, different parts of the eye begin to change that can affect your vision. These are the cornea, lens, retina, and optic nerve.
Cornea and Tear Film
Tear Film and Dry Eyes
The light that enters the eye first encounters the tear film on the surface of the cornea (clear portion of the eye) on its way to be focused onto the retina. If the tear film is diminished or abnormal, the irregular surface on the tear film will blur the vision. Dry eye disease is the most common eye disease today in America. As people are spending hours at a time starring at a variety of flat screen devices, their blinking is decreased and the eye begins to dry out. Young people are now developing dry eyes as they spend hours starring at these flat screens.
There are many diseases that can affect the clarity of the cornea as the eye ages.
The lens inside the eye that you focus with begins to change as the eye ages beginning in the 40s. When you are born, the lens in the eye is clear and very pliable. The lens can easily change its shape allowing young people to see very fine detail up close. In the 40s, the lens loses its pliability and you gradually lose the ability to focus up close. At first, you may have to hold things further away from the eyes, but eventually you need glasses to see up close unless you are nearsighted.
As the lens inside the eye ages, it becomes cloudy or hazy blurring the vision. A cataract is not a film or growth that covers over the eye but is the lens inside the eye becoming cloudy which blurs the vision.
The retina is like the film in a camera or now a computer chip in the back of the eye. As people age, the retina can go through different aging processes. The macula can go through an aging process known as macular degeneration. The macula is responsible for your central vision allowing you to read, watch TV, drive a car, and etc. In people with macular degeneration, they may begin to notice a distortion in their vision. The degeneration will progress over time which can lead to a loss of central vision.
The optic nerve carries the information from the retina to the vision center in the occipital lobe in the back of the brain. The most common cause of damage to the optic nerve is glaucoma. The incidence of glaucoma increases as we age.
Healthy Aging of the Eyes
Is there anything that you can do to keep you eyes healthy and continue to see well as you age? You can’t stop the aging process but you can decrease your risk of eye disease as you age.
- A healthy Mediterranean diet
- Do not smoke
- Always wear sunglasses outdoors
- Limit time on starring at flat screen devices and lubricate your eyes when you are watching
- Wear safety glasses doing anything that could harm your eyes such as yard work, construction work, sports, and etc
- Immediately see an eye doctor if you develop any symptoms related to your eyes