Aging Can Cause Eye Problems Other Than Low Vision Disease

by Ellen Troyer, MT MA
CEO & Chief Research Officer, Biosyntrx
Just as hair turns gray with age, bladders weaken and memories lapse, our eyes, too, undergo a metamorphosis. Although these changes are all part of normal aging, some set the stage for more serious eye problems. As eyes age, eyelid muscles weaken, and skin becomes more flaccid. This can cause the upper eye lid to droop or the lower lid to sag. Eyelashes and eyebrows may lose their lushness and thin out considerably.
Tear production also drops off, and the oily film that tears provide decreases as lubricating glands in the conjunctiva (the membrane covering the white part of the eye). These changes can lead to a buildup of mucous, resulting in stickiness, or make the cornea dry, causing irritation or an uncomfortable, gritty sensation in the eye.
The conjunctiva turns thinner and more fragile with age and takes on a yellowish tinge from an increase in the elastic fibers. The sclera (the white part of the eye) may also assume a yellowish hue from a collection of lipid, or fat, deposits. Calcium may be deposited in the sclera, leading to patches of grayish translucency. The exposed conjunctiva between the lids begins to degenerate, and the cornea can develop an opaque white ring around its edge.
With time, the crystalline lens hardens and loses its elasticity. This makes focusing on near objects difficult, a common condition called presbyopia. In addition, night vision often grows poorer. These changes usually occur simultaneously in both eyes.
The picture painted above is not pretty, but the good news is that an eye doctor can help lessen the effect of these normal processes.
Warning signs that warrant an eye doctor visit
If any of the following symptoms occur, a visit to an eye care professional is recommended.
Possibly severe disease states:
•    Permanent dark spot in the central field of vision
•    Loss of peripheral vision
•    Spots in the field of vision
•    Veil obstructing vision
•    Wavy or crooked appearance to straight lines
•    Eye pain
•    Sudden appearance of floaters or flashers
•    Sudden loss of full or partial vision
•    Trouble adjusting to dark rooms
•    Unusual sensitivity to light or glare
•    Crossed eyes
Less severe symptoms related to aging:
•    Change in iris color
•    Difficulty focusing on near or distant objects
•    Double vision
•    Dry eyes with itching or burning
•    Episodes of cloudy vision
•    Excess discharge or tearing
•    Growing bump on the eyelid
•    Halos (circles around lights) or glare
•    Hazy or blurred vision
•    Inability to close eyelid
•    Redness around the eye
Along with signs of aging like droopy eyes, sagging skin, memory lapse, and weakened bladders come maturity, wisdom, and self awareness, so don’t let minor issues limit staying in the game. Those who continue to be productive have a lot more fun and can contribute much needed expertise to society.