The Science of the older eye

As we age so do our eyes – no great revelation there – but do you know how? Why? What that means? Different elements of the eyes have different functions and they all age differently.

Perhaps most commonly known are cataracts.  These are a clouding of the natural lens resulting in dim vision.  Usually once these cataracts have developed to a certain stage the natural lens can be removed and replaced by a synthetic lens.  In some cases, usually for other medical reasons, this operation can’t be performed, and alternative solutions need to be found.

The pupil allows light into our eye, expanding and contracting to control the amount of light.  As we age, the muscles that control our pupil size and reaction to light lose strength.  This is often first noticed when driving at night, when the headlights of other cars become more of an issue but also when trying to read indoors as the days get shorter.  Specific coatings and lenses will help with driving, whereas good lighting used in conjunction with prescription spectacles is the answer for reading.  Did you know that because of these changes, people in their 60s need three times more light for comfortable reading than those in their 20s?

The back surface of the eye, known as the retina, has photoreceptor cells that detect light and send signals to the brain.  Colour vision cells decline in sensitivity as we age, causing colours to become dull and the contrast between different colours to be less noticeable.

A big help with all these problems is lighting.  We all have lighting in our homes but general ceiling lights and table lamps don’t produce enough or the right sort of light. When seeing colours and small print becomes a problem, alongside the correct prescription spectacles, directional high definition lamps can really help.

There is nothing quite like daylight – we’ve all experienced the urge to move closer to a window to see better.  At Melina Joy Opticians we recommend Serious Readers whose lights replicate aspects of natural daylight.  It is not a question of brightness alone.  Colour Rendering Index (CRI) is a measure of natural light simulation, with 100 considered perfect.  The Serious Reader High Definition lights project a CRI of 99, making them the best for seeing crisp contrast, vibrant colours and small detail.

At the practice we have a demonstration lamp and qualified Dispensing Opticians to help show you how light can really make a big difference to your vision.  If you would like to see the light in action give the practice a call on 01435 868181 to book an appointment and get a code to save the VAT on your purchase.  Or go online to Serious Readers and view the full range.

February 2020