March 30, 2012

Aging Eyes

Many of the nuisances that come with getting older have not been given a clear reasoning as to why they occur.  Some of these setbacks include a slower reaction time, memory loss, and insomnia.  Recently studies have pointed to altered circadian clocks as the culprit for these consequences of old age.  "The gradual yellowing of the lens and the narrowing of the pupil that occur with age disturb the body’s circadian rhythm." Because the eyes are aging, less sunlight is able to get to the the cells in the retina.  The retina regulates the body's internal clock, and this disturbed internal clock is now said to be linked to ailments like heart disease and insomnia.  Blue light is said to be greatly responsive with such cells in the retina, and as it turns out blue light is known to be filtered out as our eyes begin to age.  A study was done testing the amount of suppressed melatonin on women of 20 years and women of 50 years after exposure to blue light.  The older women had no were not affected at all while the younger women were.  Also it was found that people increased their reaction times after having cataract surgery.

This article gives light to how a disturbed circadian clock can disrupt certain aspects of everyday function.  It shows that getting outside even at old age is important, not only for physical activity but for the well being of our bodies.  I will be sure to get outside throughout my life as it is beneficial and more engaging than staying indoors.  Even the doctors mentioned in the article have installed sky lights in their offices because "artificial lights are 1,000 to 10,000 times dimmer than sunlight and the wrong part of the spectrum".

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