How our Eyes change with age
I don't know about you, but my eyes have definitely started to change as I get older. Smaller print is harder to read and glare bothers me a bit more. Why does this happen?
Science has discovered many age related vision changes. As we age the lenses of our eyes begin to yellow and harden. The yellowing causes a higher absorption of blue wavelength light when can distort colors. It can be harder to distinguish between green and blue and blues may start to look more grey. The increased rigidity means our eyes don't focus as quickly and accurately as they once did.
Corneas also become more opaque with age. This allows less light to enter the eye. Pupils shrink which also allows less light in to the eye. In addition, the ciliary muscles of the eye can weaken also leading to a decreased ability to focus and adjust to changing light.
Sounds pretty bleak, huh?
With some simple changes, you can take control of your vision and continue with your life as you like. Of course it is important to involve both your primary care physician and your eye doctor in vision care. Other health conditions and side effects of medication can contribute to vision problems and your doctors will best be able to handle these issues. Make sure you wear glasses if they are needed and that they are the right prescription. As our eyes change, our prescription will also change so it is important to have it checked and get new lenses as needed. Why not treat yourself to some fun new glasses that you will want to wear?
An easy help for aging eyes is proper lighting. Those over 65 need twice as much light as they did at age 20 to see in the same way. At Ease Living we have compiled some tips.
7 Lighting Tips Every Senior Must Know
- Increase Ambient Light – Ambient light is overall illumination in a room. This is different from task lighting where a specific surface like a desk, counter top of craft area is lit for a certain task.
- Let the sun shine in - The most powerful source of ambient light is the sun. So open up those curtains and blinds during daylight hours. Use skylights in areas where sun doesn't reach through the windows.
- Lighten up your Walls – Dark walls absorb light and will require more ambient light in the room. So repaint those dark walls a fun lighter color. Use a more matte finish to decrease glare.
- Reduce Glare – Those with aging eyes are especially sensitive to glare. With increased light levels comes the increased risk of glare. Some tips to reduce glare: Use well fitting, opaque shades on fixtures to help disperse the light; Avoid shiny surfaces on countertops, tables, frames etc; Use matte paint on walls and furniture so light is not reflected.
- Keep light levels uniform – Aging eyes have difficulty adjusting to sudden changes in light levels, so your goal is to keep light levels uniform within a room an when going from room to room.
- Check the wattage limits of your light fixtures to see if you can increase the wattage. If so, get new bulbs, but NEVER exceed the maximum wattage of your fixture! Say your maximum is 60 watts and you already have 60w incandescent bulbs installed. Consider switching to Compact Fluorescent (CFL) or Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs because a 15 watt CFL or a 10 watt LED will give you the same light as a 60 watt incandescent bulb. So you could get up to 4 times more light by switching to CFL and 6 times more light by changing to LED. CFL’s are hard to dim and LED’s can be expensive, and both are hard to adapt to smaller candelabra threadings, so these may not work in every situation.
- Light Controls – No one wants to stumble around looking for a light switch. Consider motion control lights or lighted wall switches to make it easy to get out of the dark. Make sure light switches and lamp controls are easy to reach and to use when considering other issues that may also be occurring like arthritis. Adding dimmers can help you adjust the light to where you can see the best and alter it for different times of day.
- Bathrooms - Avoid shadows and glare given the shiny and different leveled surfaces in a bathroom. A dimmer or motion activated light is best for night time trips so a bright light isn't startling.
- Stairways and Entry Ways – Anytime there is a change in elevation the risk of fall increases. Shadows cast by stairs can make the surface appear lower than it actually is. Make sure that lighting is consistent along the whole stair case or porch to avoid confusing the eyes and the brain.
- The Kitchen – Much like the bathroom, the kitchen contains different surface heights and shiny surfaces. Great lighting is also necessary to help read recipes, labels and prescriptions. Task lighting is especially important in the kitchen.
- Bedroom - For night time bathroom trips or reading in bed, make sure there is enough light in the bedroom. A gentle ambient light will make midnight bathroom trips safer. A good reading lamp will reduce strain when reading.
Check the lighting around your home. Move things around and buy some new maps as needed. An electrician can help install new switched lights if that is the best solution for your space. At Ease Living we offer simple low light solutions in our low vision collection here.