Are “Old Eyes” Inevitable?

What are “old eyes”?

The technical term for “old eyes” is presbyopia. Most people know it as an almost sudden struggle to read resulting in squinting that then necessitates the use of reading glasses. Other symptoms include eyestrain, headaches and fatigue from up-close work. For most people, presbyopia strikes sometime after age 40.

What’s really happening when presbyopia occurs is that eyes are losing their flexibility due to a change in the lens’ proteins in addition to loss of elasticity in muscles surrounding the eyes. These age-related occurrences make focusing on close objects more difficult.

Can “old eyes” be reversed?

Up until rather recently, corrective lenses were the only solution once “old eyes” hit. However, researchers at UC Berkley and Tel-Aviv University have “found some evidence that eye exercises may be albe to help presbyopes improve their vision appreciably.” What’s interesting is that this study showed that exercising the brain, not the eyes, provided the improvement. They think this happened by the brain’s improvement to interpret blurry images rather than any change in the eye itself. More research needs done before knowing for sure if “brain exercises” might be able to provide improvement for presbyopia.

For now, unfortunately, presbyopia is not reversible in any form.

Can “old eyes” be prevented?

Also unfortunately, presbyopia cannot be completely prevented either. However, experts say that it can be postponed, and its severity lessened. Here’s how:

  1. Visit your optometrist regularly, and have any farsightedness corrected. Uncorrected farsightedness can cause presbyiopa to set in sooner that it would otherwise.
  2. Avoid up-close work for long-periods of time. Up-close work tires the eye muscles, and tired eye muscles make correcting presbyiopia more difficult.
  3. Protect your eyes from sunlight. This means staying out of direct sunlight, or, if you are in the sun, wearing UV sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  4. Eat a healthy diet. In addition to a well-balanced diet, there are also certain foods as well as vitamins that can help keep eyes healthier over your lifetime.
  5. Take special consideration when working with a computer, especially when working with it all day long. Those who work with a computer most of the day have increased problems caused by this up-close work.

Stay tuned for an upcoming article titled “Putting Your Eyes On A Diet” where we look at what elements of a healthy diet contribute to healthier eyes over your lifetime.

Related Reading

Check out these articles related to the topics discussed above to help you postpone the onset of “old eyes.”

12 Eye Care Tips for National Eye Care Month

How Does Computer Use Affect Children’s Vision?

Exercising Your Eyes

A Lesson from Anderson Cooper – Your Eyes CAN Get Sunburned

5 Reasons to Wear Sunglasses in the Winter

About Michael Eldridge

Michael Eldridge is the President and Founder of Safety Glasses USA, one of the web's largest providers of safety glasses and goggles. He's a US Marine Veteran who's particularly passionate about protective eyewear and helping people learn about vision safety. In his spare time he enjoys target shooting, fishing, camping with his family and watching Detroit Tigers baseball. You can follow Michael on Twitter @MikeEldridge73, Google or via the Safety Glasses USA Facebook Page.