Eyes are the most valuable and sensitive organ. It is a natural optical instrument for vision, enabling us to see a beautiful colorful world around us. The baby’s eye is 75% bigger (1.65cm ) at birth than they will be as adults. Our eyes grow throughout our lives, notably throughout the first two years of childhood and puberty. The development is less in middle age and reaches the maximum size of approximately 2.3 cm in length.
HOW DO EYES GROW?
Our newborn eyes aren’t just smaller; they’re less valuable as well. Over time, we learn to move, focus, and use them. During puberty, they develop much faster. By the age of 19, a person’s eyes will be fully grown.
Most adults between the ages of 19 and 40 enjoy healthy eyes and good vision.
There will come the point in your life when your vision begins to decline. Its usually after the 40s that the eyes continue to increase in weight and undergo age-related changes.
RISK FACTORS OF EYE CHANGES
Factors affecting the changes are,
1. Smoking. Smoking is believed to cause oxidative stress in the eyes, which can be hazardous to eye health, according to research in 2005. Smoking can interfere with the lens’s clarity.
2. Alcohol. It is frequently related to smoking and can impair nutritional absorption. Alcohol may act directly on the proteins in the lens or indirectly by impairing the absorption of critical nutrients for the lens. See what other effects alcohol has on the body.
3. Bad Dietary Habits. According to research published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, a poor diet is associated with eye-related problems. Some high fat and sugary foods like chips, candies, fried foods, soda, and fast food are responsible for this. On average, participants were approximately three times more likely to acquire Age-related Macular Degeneration AMD than those who ate primarily healthy eye foods.
4. The Ultraviolet Rays. Both visible and ultraviolet light can cause eye damage. The cornea, in particular, is an excellent absorber of ultraviolet (UV) light and, if damaged, can result in cataracts. Photokeratitis is the medical term for sunburn of the cornea. This is a painful corneal irritation produced by unfiltered ultraviolet radiation exposure.
5. Physical and Emotional Stress. Stress is a hazard to the retina in the majority of cases. For instance, older adults with vascular health problems such as high blood pressure are already at risk of developing significant retinal disorders such as age-related macular degeneration or retinal vein occlusion.
6. Family History of Eye Problems. You may be more susceptible to eye problems if you have a family history of glaucoma, macular degeneration, early cataracts, or other eye issues. A family history of glaucoma increases the risk of it by 4-9 times, according to research in 2017.
AGING-EYES: AGE-RELATED CHANGES IN EYES
Like all of our other body parts, our eyes do grow old. Even though it’s not as evident as our height, skin, or hair, it does alter significantly as we grow older. Check out how our hair ages as we age here.
As we age, it’s realistic to expect that our vision may change over time.
In June 2021, Dr. Andrew Huberman discussed this on his podcast that suggests one either requires glasses to see clearly or has difficulty adapting to glare or identifying differences in intones. The physiological changes of eyes include:
Or age-related farsightedness. Particularly after 40 years of age, our eyes start losing their focus. This condition is known as presbyopia, with some people losing concentration more than others, but distance vision will not be affected. This means items in close surroundings are harder to perceive, and it is more difficult to see a text from a typical reading distance. Your eye lenses get harder and less flexible as you age, and your eye muscles undoubtedly weaken. As a result, the lenses are less flexible. This makes close-ups difficult. But not your capacity to see distant objects. So presbyopia is age-related farsightedness.
Presbyopia often begins at the age of 40 and gradually worsens until the late 60s. Some people are troubled by headaches or other visual symptoms when reading or performing other works. In 2015, the global estimate of people suffering from presbyopia was 1.8 billion people.
Nearsightedness is an eye condition in which one can see close up but not far away. They term it myopia. Myopia development might be slow or rapid. The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that the eyes are fully grown by age 20 and your nearsightedness does not alter substantially until age 40. Myopia also may get worse with age, the reason is due because the light entering the eyes is not properly focused, pictures seem blurry. Consider it similar to a misdirected spotlight. The main difference between presbyopia and myopia is that a Presbyopia is produced by the lack of flexibility of the crystalline lens of the eye, whereas myopia is caused by the shape of the eye.
DRY EYE SYNDROME
It occurs due to the inability of our tear glands to produce less amount or poor quality tears, thus not correctly lubricating them, resulting in dry eyes. Dry eye is prevalent among women who have gone through menopause. Around 61% of perimenopausal and menopausal women suffer from dry eyes. Although it is unpleasant, dry eye syndrome rarely causes permanent vision loss.
TEARING EYE/ EPIROPIA
Tear ducts grow thinner with age. The tears can therefore not drain correctly, so the eyes become excessively moist. Tear flow impairments typically cause epiphora due to infection, foreign body, or sensitivity to light, wind, or temperature changes. The clogged tear duct is occasionally slightly infected and makes skin red and sore between nose and eye.
SPOTS OR FLOATERS
Floaters are tiny spots or shadows floating through the field of view. Degenerative changes in the glassy or jelly-like fluid that fills the eye center might thicken or decrease. These little gel clumps might shape and cause our vision to form the floaters. Most people notice them on a bright day in bright rooms or outdoors. They are usually harmless but can also predispose to chronic age-related conditions such as retinal detachment requiring emergency treatment. Always check with the ophthalmologist to rule out the concern.
Blepharitis, an infection of the eyelid, is more common with age. Red or inflamed eyes, crusty eyelashes, or pain are symptoms, but they usually do not affect eyesight.
LIGHT SENSITIVITY & FLASHES
With age, we become more sensitive to glare and light. It is because we lose strength in muscles that control our pupil size and light response. This limits the pupil’s reactivity to environmental illumination alterations.
Trichiasis is a typical aging disorder when the eyelashes grow inward, toward the eye. The lashes can irritate the cornea or conjunctiva, causing redness, tears, light sensitivity, and corneal abrasion. Symptoms include redness, watery eyes and swelling can also occur. Trichiasis can occur from an eye infection or damage as well.
AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION
It is an eye disease that can blur your central vision. It is a primary cause of visual loss in adults over 50 years. AMD can progress so slowly that visual loss is prolonged, and people may not feel early symptoms. As AMD advances, a hazy area towards the center of vision becomes more typical, with possible blank regions. Objects may also appear less brilliant. It never leads to total blindness; instead, AMD may impair an individual’s ability to recognize faces and read. Further, it is classified as “dry” or “wet”. 85-90 % of AMD cases are dry. (when the blood vessels inside the eye do not leak). The rest, about 10% of people with macular degeneration, are of wet AMD.
Smoking (doubles the risk), genetics, and family history are the main risk factors of age-related macular degeneration.
When someone with diabetes has extremely high blood sugar levels, the blood vessels in the retina might get damaged, causing impaired vision. Fluid may leak from the blood vessels, resulting in hazy vision or no symptoms at all. As the condition progresses, floaters, blind spots, or cloudiness of vision can be seen. New abnormal and tiny blood vessels may grow and bleed into the center of the eye, causing severe vision loss or blindness. Nearly all patients with type 1 diabetes and >60% of patients with type 2 diabetes have retinopathy.
When the inner and outer layers of the retina become separated, this is referred to as retinal detachment. Vitreous, the eye fluid, can pass through the tear and collect behind the retina. It then pushes the retina away from the back of the eye, detaching it. Without a retina, the eye is unable to communicate with the brain, blocking vision. Retinal detachment usually occurs in persons aged 40-70 years. Among the symptoms of retinal detachment are the following:
- Spots or bursts of light that appear unexpectedly.
- A wavy vision, as if you were underwater.
- A dark shadow anywhere throughout your field of vision.
In simpler words, a cataract is a clouding of the lens, causing blurry or color-tinted vision. People with cataracts often report “haloes” surrounding objects they’re looking at, particularly at night. Cataracts usually develop slowly and cause no discomfort, redness, or tearing in the eye. Some remain small and have little effect on vision. If they become too large or thick and significantly impair eyesight. Globally, the incidence is almost certainly greater than 5 million.
Glaucoma is a condition in which the pressure of the fluid inside the eye increases. This may damage the optic nerve, which may lead to vision loss or even blindness. However, glaucoma can still take place even if the pressure inside the eye is not elevated. Individuals affected frequently experience a loss of peripheral vision as if looking through a cylinder. Still, their core vision remains intact, which is why it is referred to as “tunnel vision.” It is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma affects an estimated 57.5 million people worldwide, with a global frequency of 2.2%.
AGE-RELATED PHYSICAL CHANGES ON THE EYE CONTOUR AND EYELID
1. Drooping of eyelids or blepharoptosis weakens the upper eyelid muscle resulting in drooping and causing vision problems. It can be on one side or both. It equally affects both genders. This condition also advances with age and is proven by the study.
2. Outwards turning of eyelids or ectropion. This exposes the inner eyelid surface to irritation. Ectropion affects only the lower eyelid, is more common with progressing age, and is reported as high as 2%.
3. Inwards turning of eyelids or entropion. The eyelid supports weaken with age, allowing the eyelid muscles to turn the eyelids in. It may produce irritation, a feeling of something in the eye, tearing, and blurring. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, up to 2.1 percent of people over 60 years are affected by entropion.
4. Brow Ptosis occurs when the muscle is in charge of elevating the eyebrows, loses its strength, and lowers the eyebrow. It can also be due to low levels of collagen production with age changes. Medial side brow ptosis is probably the most common.
HOW TO DEAL WITH AGING EYES?
We can’t reverse the aging process. We can, however, limit the risk factors that contribute to visual loss. Certain lifestyle adjustments can help lessen eye irritation and symptoms, including the options:
1. Routine Eye Examination.
Routine eye exams are vital for your overall health as well as catching silent eye disorders. Eye exams can detect conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, vitamin deficiencies, and many diseases before symptoms appear.
The AAO recommends all healthy adults get a baseline eye exam with an ophthalmologist by age 40.
- Under 40 ⇒ Every 5 – 10 years
- 40 – 54 ⇒ Every 2 – 4 years
- 55 – 64 ⇒ Every 1 – 3 years
- 65 or older ⇒ Every 1 – 2 years
The NHS currently recommends a two-yearly checkup for everyone over 60. The frequency can increase depending on the eye issue, and the optometrist or ophthalmologist can suggest.
2. Identify Your Risk Factors.
For keeping your vision intact, it’s critical to know the risk factors for major eye illnesses. Your ophthalmologist should be made aware of your family history, ethnicity, age, and other related information during your routine eye exam.
3. Wear Your Shades.
Avoiding the harmful effects of UV light can significantly lessen the sun’s damaging aging effects. Sunglasses are an excellent fashion accessory, but their primary function is to shield your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. When shopping for sunglasses, aim for those that block 99 -100% of UV-A and UV-B light.
4. Give Your Eyes A Rest.
Install applications in your smartphones that help to reduce the eyestrain and risk of eyesight disorders.
Your eyes can eventually get tired if you spend too much time focusing on one thing or staring at the computer. Observe the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away for 20 seconds in front of you.
Exercise can help relieve eye strain. Recent research has proven that Yoga eye exercises could be considered a therapeutic and nonpharmacologic intervention for reducing eye fatigue and IOP (intraocular pressure) for glaucoma and stress, but it won’t improve your vision. These exercises must not be performed after any eye surgery.
5. Spend Time Outdoors.
There has been a lot of debate about having sunlight for better vision. Recent study reveals that greater “sun time” can really slow down the course of myopia (commonly referred to as nearsightedness), or even postpone its onset. So getting outdoor light ideally for 2 hours even if the cloud has covered the sky will significantly reduce the onset of myopia.
Another thing that can help with visual improvement is daylight therapy. A study conducted by experts at the United Kingdom’s University College London discovered that a quick application of the appropriate type of light can enhance failing vision. The study discovered that a 3-minute exposure to deep red light in the morning, once a week, can temporarily enhance eyesight that has deteriorated due to aging. The researchers observed that morning light had an effect. The study also found that 3 minutes of light exposure improves eyesight for up to a week.
6. Eat Right To Protect Your Sight.
Proper diet and food choices can help you maintain your eye health and vision. According to the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), several minerals — zinc, copper, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene — may significantly lower the risk of age-related decline in eye health by 25%.
- Carrots are high in beta carotene and lutein, antioxidants that can help reduce free radical damage to the eyes. Carotene is the key nutrient. There is no ‘ideal number’ of carrots to eat every day, although a moderate amount will be beneficial.
- Diets rich in lutein may be especially protective against AMD. A 100-gram portion of kale has 11.4 mg of lutein, and 10 mg is recommended per day. Red peppers and spinach are also high in lutein.
- Dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, or collard greens, also help maintain eye health.
- Fish. A new study reveals that eating two servings of fish each week reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a prevalent cause of blindness in the elderly. In addition to being healthy, research in 2020 has found that eating fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, improves eye health.
- Eggs. They are a source of Vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc are all found in the yolks. They reduce the chances of AMD.
- Almonds. You can get the almost complete need for Vitamin E from almonds, as they contain 11 IU per serving (23 nuts or 1/4 cup). Still, they should be eaten in moderation like 1 or 2 servings due to their high-calorie size.
7. Supplements Can Help.
Vitamins and minerals should always be obtained from the diet. The American Optometric Association says nutrients from food or supplements can help you see clearly. While a healthy diet and regular checkups can assist maintain eye health, they cannot repair eyeball shape or avoid physiological changes such as lens hardening caused by aging.
Eye-friendly nutrients include antioxidants, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins C and E, zinc, and vital fatty acids. For good eye health, look to these vitamins and nutrients and their recommended daily allowance:
|Nutrients||RDA ( Recommended Daily Allowance)|
||700mg for women, 900mg for men|
||11mg for men and 8 mg for women|
||2 mg (taken to prevent copper deficiency caused by zinc)|
This supplement formulation is available in capsule form and is usually taken twice daily.
Beware of supplementation as there may be side effects that are harmful to health, to get an idea, check out this article. It is always advised to consult your doctor/ophthalmologist before taking any supplement in any case.
8. Maintain A Healthy Weight.
Obesity raises the risk of diabetes and other systemic diseases that can cause vision loss, such as diabetes complications and glaucoma. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as food and exercise, has indisputable advantages.
9. Train Your Eyes.
Eye exercise, generally in the form of vision therapy, can assist in ensuring that the two eyes operate well together.
- Accommodation exercises. This exercise works by putting your attention under strain. It is always advised after a long computer work to educe eye strain. Focus on your thumb 10 inches away from your face for 15 seconds. Alternatively, you can hold a near item with a letter on it to help your concentrating mechanism work more effectively. After fifteen seconds, refocus your eyes on an object 20 feet (6 meters) distant preferably outside the window and maintain your focus for another fifteen seconds. Return your attention to your thumb. Repeat several times.
- The Smooth Pursuit. This is the type of exercises that are meant to to keep a moving stimulus on the visual field. The observer can choose whether or not to monitor a moving stimulus. Examples of such exercises can be found HERE. To perform them, choose three videos for one week and swap them each week.
- The figure of Eight. Figure eights can be used to improve one’s vision if they have difficulty in focusing on certain object. Choose a position on the floor that is 10 feet distant from you. Make a figure eight with your eyes, if you can imagine it. Continue in one way for 30 seconds, then change directions of eye movements.
We can also say watching a live baseball game during the daytime would be beneficial for the eyes overall!
10. Main Your Blood Sugar Levels.
Diabetes-related blindness is prevented in 90% of cases. Ask your doctor to help you develop and achieve blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol goals.
Aging is a privilege that rarely comes free. When it comes to aging eyes and close-up vision, preventive measures are easy to integrate into your lifestyle, helping to delay the onset of age-related changes. If you are diagnosed with a special eye condition or suspect one, then please refer to our new updated article for complete available solutions for each age-related eye condition.