As we age, the body goes through a myriad of changes. Some changes have no impact, while others are significant. But no matter what, the best ways to deal with these changes are to understand them as best we can and approach each issue accordingly. At Marano Eye Care, our ophthalmology practice in New Jersey works with people of all ages. However, it’s continually important to us that our older patients – and prospective patients – stay informed about vision changes that may occur. Read on to learn about how your eyes change as you age and a couple of theories as to why.
Per this aging theory, the expected deterioration that we may experience in our eyes is actually programmed into our DNA. Our genetic codes are all unique and therefore each has a predetermined likelihood to experiences issues with certain mental and physical functions. Eventually all our biological clocks theoretically go off at a set point, signaling our bodies to age and then die. This all ties into the debate of nature vs. nurture. While it may be true that our genetics have set coding, we are all exposed to countless variations in our lives.
This theory was first introduced in 1882 by Dr. August Weismann of Germany. Like all items, whether organic or synthetic, overuse and abuse of our bodies will inevitably cause them to break down. But this process takes place on the cellular level as well. As we stress our body more, free radicals are believed to be produced. Free radicals are molecules that differ from our normal molecules and have the potential to be destructive to our cells. This includes our cell metabolism. When our metabolism breaks down, we are unable to maintain and repair our bodies in the same way as when we were younger. This applies to all parts of the body, including our eyes.
In the case of both theories, there is a bit of depressing inevitability regarding our fates. If our genetic code has predetermined our fates, why bother trying to maintain our health? How do we avoid producing free radicals if they are produced by every single action we take? There isn’t anything good that can come from resigning ourselves. Don’t start staring at the sun every day. We can help ourselves. For instance, substances such as beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E are antioxidants that help prevent free radicals from doing damage. Exercise will also boost the metabolism, and keeping the mind stimulated will maintain brain stimulation.
Here are some of the ways the eyes will change as we get older:
The relaxation or deflation of tissue around the eyes occurs much like it occurs in other areas of the body. Tendons become lax, fat under the eye descends and exterior skin layers will become too large, causing folds, bags, and wrinkles. The eyelid can also turn inward towards the eye or away. This can compromise your vision and ability to make tears. For these conditions, Botox and Juvederm can be superior solutions. However, in more severe cases, surgery might be recommended.
The cornea is the transparent layer that forms the front of the eye. As the layer exposed to the elements of our world, the cornea relies on tears to clean and lubricate its surface. Unfortunately, tear production changes as we age and can cause chronic dry eye. This is one of the most age-related concerns of the eyes, frustrating patients and ophthalmologists alike. Dry eyes are caused by multiple factors so at Marano Eye Care we recommend getting a proper diagnosis to ensure the right course of treatment is delivered.
Over time the lens will begins to absorb more blue light because yellow pigments accumulate in the lens. Consequently, objects won’t seem quite as blue as they once were. The are many examples of famous painters using more blue as they get older, likely due in part to this condition.
Another very common effect of ageing on the lens is presbyopia. This is when farsightedness occurs in part because the eye’s crystalline lens begins to harden. Without it’s normal flexibility, it is more difficult for the eyes to focus on closer objects. Reading glasses are the most common solution, but consult with your eye doctor if you wish to discuss more advanced solutions.
There are many ways that the eyes change as you age. If you want to learn more, the doctors at Marano Eye Care are always happy to take the time to educate patients. If you’re worried about the condition of your eyes, call us at 973-322-0100 to schedule a complete eye exam.