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Aging Eyes Blamed For Seniors' Health Woes

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the posting-this-from-the-villages dept.

Medicine 149

Hugh Pickens writes "Scientists have looked for explanations as to why certain conditions occur with age, among them memory loss, slower reaction time, insomnia and even depression looking at such suspects as high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease and an inactive lifestyle. Now Laurie Tarkan writes that as eyes age, less and less sunlight gets through the lens to reach key cells in the retina that regulate the body's circadian rhythm, its internal clock that rallies the body to tackle the day's demands in the morning and slows it down at night, allowing the body to rest and repair. 'Evolution has built this beautiful timekeeping mechanism, but the clock is not absolutely perfect and needs to be nudged every day,' says Dr. David Berson, whose lab at Brown University studies how the eye communicates with the brain. Dr. Patricia Turner, an ophthalmologist who with her husband, Dr. Martin Mainster has written extensively about the effects of the aging eye on health, estimate that by age 45, the photoreceptors of the average adult receive just 50 percent of the light needed to fully stimulate the circadian system, by age 55, it dips to 37 percent, and by age 75, to a mere 17 percent and recommend that people should make an effort to expose themselves to bright sunlight or bright indoor lighting when they cannot get outdoors and have installed skylights and extra fluorescent lights in their own offices to help offset the aging of their own eyes. 'In modern society, most of the time we live in a controlled environment under artificial lights, which are 1,000 to 10,000 times dimmer than sunlight and the wrong part of the spectrum,' says Turner. 'We believe the effect is huge and that it's just beginning to be recognized as a problem.'"

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Basement lighting (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39112941)

I usually keep the lights here in the basement off.

Re:Basement lighting (2)

EliSowash (2532508) | about 2 years ago | (#39113001)

Same with the rock I live under.

Re:Basement lighting (-1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#39114195)

Nice hypothesis, but I don't buy it.

eyes age, less and less sunlight gets through the lens to reach key cells in the retina that regulate the body's circadian rhythm, its internal clock that rallies the body to tackle the day's demands in the morning and slows it down at night, allowing the body to rest and repair.

I had a steroid-induced cataract in my left eye back in 2006 and it didn't bother my circadians any. What affects your eyes the most as you age, around age 40, is the lens getting hard so the muscles can no longer focus. That's why you need reading glasses.

And what of people born blind? Those who have had retina failures in both eyes at a young age?

I do notice that in the spring, sunlight on my skin seems to be cheerful, and that's probably more important - the vitamin D. Plus, you have more light in the summer than in the winter, how does that come into play? And like you and the GP, what of those who never leave the basement (or rock)?

Where's that biology lady go? I'd like to hear her take on this.

Re:Basement lighting (2)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 years ago | (#39114737)

Did you read the summary much less the article or the study? The amount of light assists in the body's internal clock. The amount of light is not the only regulator and her research has never indicated what you proscribe to it. It may be a factor and worth some more research. Your personal anecdote is just that, a personal anecdote. That's like saying your uncle was a two-a-pack smoker; he didn't die of cancer so all the studies linking smoking to cancer from these "biologists" and "doctors" are hogwash.

Re:Basement lighting (1)

Moryath (553296) | about 2 years ago | (#39114811)

Where's Dr. Bob, DC when you need him? I was looking forward to hearing about how the radiation from the commonly used business lighting causes vertebral subluxations to damage the spine and thus cause the eyes to have problems... ;)

But seriously - I've always wondered about this. I find I'm happier when I force myself to get outside every couple hours during my working day to get some sunlight. I'm really much happier on vacations when I can get a full day's sun, and even the sunlight going to/from home in summers is much better than the "get up, dark, drive to work, dark, sit in work under flourescents, bleck, drive home, dark, go to bed, dark" rhythm of winter - there are definitely days where my rhythm gets off and I'm starting to slip into the "natural without lighting" 28-30 hour cycle that miners have reported experiencing after working too many long days underground.

Re:Basement lighting (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#39116125)

Funny I'm just the opposite, that evil daystar makes me feel all crappy and run down, but give me those nice warm summer nights with big sky with stars aplenty and a big fat moon and ...ahhh, its like paradise. Even with ultra dark shades on more than an hour or two under that evil daystar gives me a serious skullthumper and just ruins my mood. Lucky for me that even though my GF is an "up with the roosters" happy morning person she has done accepted its pointless to change me, she just leaves me in the bed cave until noon for "breakfast" of home made pizza or burger and fries..damn now I'm hungry, y'all have a nice discussion i'm gonna go get a pizza.

Re:Basement lighting (2)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#39114909)

It only takes one eye being stimulated to reset the clock, so a cataracts in one eye shouldn't have a lot of effect.

The question of those born blind and with disease of the retinas does need to be answered. Of course, a lot of blind people do retain some residual awareness of light and dark and still others might have an in-tact pathway to the SCM while having no conscious awareness of it.

Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count? (3, Funny)

na1led (1030470) | about 2 years ago | (#39112959)

What are the effects of too much exposure to light? Should I use a screen filter for my monitor?

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39113063)

Cancer.

So uh, do populations where it's sunny year round have a significantly smaller population of people with memory loss attributed to ageing?

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (1, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39113195)

So uh, do populations where it's sunny year round have a significantly smaller population of people with memory loss attributed to ageing?

That alone proves its bogus. A simple trigonometric function of latitude should correlate strongly with age related problems. That strong correlation does exist for indoor lighting.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39113811)

Have you seen the study that correlates eye socket diameter with latitude? (Spoiler: it's a significant, positive correlation).

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (1)

radon28 (593565) | about 2 years ago | (#39114055)

Obviously, an individual's eye socket diameter informs their decision on where to live.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39116033)

Obviously, an individual's eye socket diameter informs their decision on where to live.

Nah, it's all those tropical islanders & jungle dwellers with the beady little eyes....

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (5, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#39113121)

It wouldn't be a bad idea, but honestly if you had a problem you'd know it by now, take it from someone with a circadian rhythm disorder. During my bad spells I have every symptom of an 80 year old man; lack of concentration, poor memory, poor reaction time, moodiness and anger, physical exhaustion, and of course extreme drowsiness. And that's even if I manage to get a decent 6 hours of sleep, when your body is determined that it is time to sleep it does not appreciate being kept awake. You can push through it for a day or two, maybe a week with enough willpower, but 3 weeks into a stretch where your body thinks that 5AM to 1PM is the perfect time to sleep when family, work, and friends all think differently... well... yeah... you'd know if you had circadian rhythm problems.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (5, Interesting)

Sevalecan (1070490) | about 2 years ago | (#39113259)

I actually have a circadian rhythm disorder myself. Between 2005 and 2010 my sleep 'schedule' would go around the clock fully over a period of every 1-2 weeks. So, part of the time I was up during only the night, sometimes in between, sometimes during normal parts of the day. I have a greater than 24-hour sleep cycle naturally it would seem. However, I've been maintaining a pretty normal schedule for 1.5 years now. I started using sublingual 2.5mg melatonin lozenges after my sister told me about them. It totally did the trick in my case.

Of course, more relevant to the article, there are lamps you can also buy for bright light therapy. I actually just got myself one about 11 days ago. It can take up to a few weeks to have an effect, and I think I've finally started to feel a measurable effect over the past 3 days, but I'll see how it goes before I make a final determination. According to what I've read, it can help with circadian rhythm disorders, but I personally bought it for the antidepressant effect. Perhaps I'll be able to switch over to using only the light, which would be pretty neat. But I wouldn't complain if I still had to use melatonin.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#39113357)

Can you toss more information on those lozenges to me? I seem to have almost the exact same issue you describe having.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (2)

durrr (1316311) | about 2 years ago | (#39113453)

Melatonin is considered a supplment in some parts of the world, and prescription drug in others. If considered a supplement where you live, go to the pharmacy and pick up ~1mg pills, should do the trick(effective dose is something like 0,1mg)

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#39114395)

You take it a little before the desired "bed time" I take it?

We have nonprescription sleep aids that have melatonin in it, so I'm assuming for now I can actually get it.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (3, Interesting)

Sevalecan (1070490) | about 2 years ago | (#39113473)

I use the Nature's Way Sublingual Melatonin in the 2.5mg potency. You can order it on Amazon, [amazon.com] if you prefer. They also come in other forms where you just swallow them, but then you tend to have to take them a few hours before you go to bed, whereas you can take the lozenge closer or at the time you intend to go to sleep.

Disclaimer: I'm no doctor of course, but I'm told it's perfectly safe. I actually know of 3 people other than myself that use it without issues. I've also heard that if you take much more than 2 mg it can lessen the effect, but I've had no issues with the 2.5 mg lozenges.

Interesting tidbit: I just did the math. I used to sleep for 9.5-10 hours, and then was awake for 16. That would make my sleep cycle around 25.5-26 hours.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (1)

garyebickford (222422) | about 2 years ago | (#39113775)

Melatonin is one of the body's natural substances - I think the synthetic is supposed to be identical. I used it for a while, then quit, now just starting up again. It evidently works best when taken at the same time every day and then go to bed, not to read. In my case (before) it worked for a while in getting me to sleep but I would still wake up two or three times a night. After a while it quit working entirely. I was not good at the 'same time every day' part, so I think that my body just decided the signals were screwed up and started ignoring it. I have also been told that taking too much will reduce its effectiveness. Now I've just started taking it again, but I'm also taking some other things that help me stay asleep (without knocking me out like Sominex etc.) We'll see.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#39113369)

:) just learned what I have. People never understood how I could sleep +1 hour later everyday. wonder if I can get melatonin lozenges.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (1)

garyebickford (222422) | about 2 years ago | (#39113797)

They have it at WalMart (in the US).

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (5, Interesting)

Phat_Tony (661117) | about 2 years ago | (#39114635)

Everybody in this thread - The natural 25-26 hour schedule is completely normal for most diurnal mammals. They've done research with humans giving them NO time queues for days, and it turns out EVERYBODY falls into a slightly over 24-hour schedule.

The conclusion here is that our chemical engines are too imprecise for us to evolve a dead-on circadian cycle. So instead evolution gave us an unaided circadian cycle that's calibrated with a mean of about 25 hours, so that people with a naturally extremely short cycle are still just over 24 hours, and it goes up from there. Then we get a natural reset cue to adjust the cycle every day to keep it in sync with the world. The primary component of the reset signal is sunlight exposure in the morning. If you get up at a reasonable time (near or after sunrise) and GET OUTDOORS for about 15 minutes, then you will feel like going to bed at the right time to get enough sleep and want to get up at about the same time the next day. We and our ancestors spent tens of millions of years with no choice but to receive natural light in the morning, so it was a pretty good system before we evolved to live in our parent's basements and stare at little screens all day.

I suffer big time from this - every day I want to stay up and get up about an hour or so later than I did the day before - but not if I'm spending much time outdoors, especially in the morning. When I'm backpacking, wholly cow do I just want to go to bed when it gets dark, and get up just after sunrise. If we spent the day exercising outdoors like evolution intended, we wouldn't have this problem... but good luck being able to/wanting to do that all the time. But if you just drag yourself out of bed and take a 15 minute walk outdoors, even if it's cloudy or right around sunrise, problem solved. It does get tricky if you have to be at work before sunrise. Or if you work night shift (which I did for about 2 years) you're just *'ed.

I think the light exposure causes melanin production on about a 14 hour delay, making us want top go to sleep about 16 hours after exposure. This is why melanin supplements near bedtime are somewhat functional as a surrogate for actual light exposure in the morning.

Or as an alternate solution, since the day gets longer by about 1.7 milliseconds per century, by my calculations you could just wait about 200 million years for the earth to get in sync with your natural clock.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39113805)

There is a program called Flux or something like that which changes the light temperature coming from your monitor based on the time of day.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (1)

AJH16 (940784) | about 2 years ago | (#39114459)

If I stay awake until I get tired, I stay awake for 24 hours at a time and then sleep for 12. I just lucked out because I'm able to sleep alright after 16 hours awake, though it does make for brutal mornings. For a few weeks one summer though I went to a 24/12 schedule and it was the best couple weeks ever even if people had trouble getting used to when I was available and when I wasn't. Apparently it is fairly common to have a longer than 24 hour circadian rhythm. I know someone had put together a 6, 28 hour day a week schedule that could be done if you have flexible enough hours, though thus far I have not been in a situation where the hours are flexible enough to try it.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 2 years ago | (#39115645)

I had just gone down to Fry's and grabbed 2 long 6 outlet strips, a dozen 'Daylight' (blue tint instead of the 'warm' red tint) compact florescent bulbs, and 2 wall outlet timers. I did have to stop at the hardware store as well to get 10 minimal fixtures (just to turn standard outlets into bulb sockets)

I spend 15 minutes every morning as I wake up just gazing into the lights...

Completely changed my life; instead of having problems with insomnia and waking before noon, I now get naturally tired around midnight, and naturally wake up between 7 and 8.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39114589)

For about a year I was on a 28 hour schedule by choice. Awake for 20 hours, sleep for eight. It was glorious. Awake until you are tired then sleep until you are rested. Repeat. You sleep six times over seven days. You will wake up at the same time on each weekday, 8am on Monday, Noon on Tuesday, 4 pm on Wednesday, etc. I do miss it.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 2 years ago | (#39113401)

What are the effects of too much exposure to light?

Combustion.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39113403)

Too much staring at computers? Nothing. I guarantee your computer screen is not bright as the outdoors under daylight*, and your eyes are made to handle that.

Staring at a computer not in proper phase with your 24-hour schedule? That's a problem -- particularly staring at it just before you go to sleep.

*clear sky (not the sun directly) is a few thousand nits, and fills up to a hemisphere. Your screen is hundreds of nits, and subtends a smaller angle.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (4, Informative)

Venner (59051) | about 2 years ago | (#39113437)

Cataracts are one possible effect; clouding of the lens due to exposure to bands of UV light. Certain medication can also contribute to the effects of light on the eye, but the common one that many people use without knowing the potential effect is St. John's Wort.

I'm profoundly affected by the shortened (and usually sunless) days beginning in the fall, through the awful winter, and into the spring. (I'm self-diagnosing, but I'd say it qualifies as SAD [nih.gov] .) I've used St. John's Wort in the winter months with a reasonable degree of success, but I think adding bright light to my work area helped a lot more. As in, four 300W fluorescent bulbs.

Much to my chagrin, however, I learned that St. John's Wort and Bright Light don't Mix [fordham.edu] .

Cataracts are (generally) easily treated, thankfully, but that might not be the extent of the possible effect. And I don't particularly want cataracts before I hit 40.

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about 2 years ago | (#39113739)

I use a full spectrum monitor

Re:Does staring at a Computer Screen all day count (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#39114693)

I use a full spectrum monitor

So, you stare at a florescent light bulb all day.

You must be in management.....

So much for geeks (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 2 years ago | (#39112961)

that people should make an effort to expose themselves to bright sunlight or bright indoor lighting when they cannot get outdoors

In neither case does bright lighting come into the equation. There's a reason geeks are thought of as pasty white,* though at least Sheldon has a set schedule of going outside to get sunlight once a week.

*Yes, I do realize there are many geeks who get outside for various activities. It's a joke.

Re:So much for geeks (1)

Lumpio- (986581) | about 2 years ago | (#39113097)

I do realize there are many geeks who get outside for various activities. It's a joke.

Really? They must not be very serious geeks if they have time for such folly.

another reason to get cholsterol under control (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#39112971)

Cholesterol is a distraction (2)

nido (102070) | about 2 years ago | (#39114335)

One of the reasons bodies make LDL cholesterol is to make pregnenolone [wikipedia.org] . Pregnenolone gets turned into Progesterone or DHEA. Progesterone becomes Cortisol; DHEA becomes Testosterone, which gets turned into estrogen. Wikipedia has a nice flow chart somewhere... Progestogens, I think.

If the cholesterol -> pregnenolone conversion isn't working very well (because of hypothyroidism, or a lack of required vitamins), the liver pumps out more "base material" [LDL cholesterol] with the hope that more of the needed hormones will be produced.

Cloudy eyes has to do with a loss of order in the lens' proteins, possibly due to low energy (hypothyroidism). It's sorta like how a clear egg white turns white when it's cooked - the proteins lose order with the application of heat.

Two asides: Knee-capping the body's hormone system via Lipitor/Crestor is a crime against physiology. My father refuses to take Lipitor because he sees what it does to his patients. Mom goes along with what her doctor says, and figures her lack of energy is just "normal aging".

Chemical birth control (the ones that use prescription hormone disruptors) also interferes with the progesterone -> cortisol pathway, but doesn't much touch the DHEA->Testosterone->Estrogen pathway. Which leads to women having too much testosterone and estrogen in their bodies. The transformation takes a couple decades. My first post in that series isn't quite finished. Soon, though. :^)

Re:Cholesterol is a distraction (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#39114373)

"cholsterol is not a problem" trolls

not as bad as gluten/ fructose/ artificial sweetener/ vaccination trolls

still annoying

Re:Cholesterol is a distraction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39115347)

Trolls? It's called science.

Might want to learn some biochemistry and stop reading some annoying non-scientific population surveys.

what about the blind? (2)

j2.718ff (2441884) | about 2 years ago | (#39112979)

I wonder, do the blind have the same "health woes" when aging as the sighted?

Re:what about the blind? (3, Interesting)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 2 years ago | (#39113055)

"Life expectancy of the blind is usually less than half that of someone with eyesight the same age."

That's according to http://www.cureblindness.org/world-blindness/ [cureblindness.org] which probably includes lots of accidents which are non-health related deaths. (Wow, there's a concept. He's dead, but a *healthy* sort of dead.)

Re:what about the blind? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39113219)

(Wow, there's a concept. He's dead, but a *healthy* sort of dead.)

Below the neck, he's perfectly healthy.
What about above the neck?
Perfectly healthy there too.
So why is he dead?
My guess is that the two perfectly healthy parts don't work quite as well when they're on different sides of the room.
Oh.

Re:what about the blind? (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#39113575)

As every worm that ever crossed my young self will contest to.

Re:what about the blind? (2)

iggymanz (596061) | about 2 years ago | (#39113343)

that's because the blind are a gift to Shal-Hulud

Re:what about the blind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39113057)

I'm talking out my ass here, but I think its more that the cycle is set at the wrong point, where if you were blind, it would be not at all.

Re:what about the blind? (1)

cratermoon (765155) | about 2 years ago | (#39113273)

I wondered that exact same thing myself. At the very least, the authors of the study need to touch on this question. How do their claims stack up when applied to those born blind, or who lose sight at an early age?

Re:what about the blind? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 2 years ago | (#39113393)

No, no, they can't investigate the blind, professional welders or farm workers, since the results from multiple data points will likely ruin their business model.

Re:what about the blind? (2)

turtledawn (149719) | about 2 years ago | (#39114205)

Many non-photosensitive congenitally blind people have what is called non-24 hour sleep-wake disorder, where their circadian rhythm is basically free floating. Blind people who are still photosensitive have lower incidence of this disorder, as long as they get some light each day (preferably morning sunlight).

Re:what about the blind? (1)

durrr (1316311) | about 2 years ago | (#39113807)

No, they are entirely preoccupied with dodging traffic. Of course only those that survived the introduction of the silent killer: the hybrid car.

Cataract Surgery (4, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | about 2 years ago | (#39113023)

I believe the article mentions that cataract surgery will fix this problem, allowing the full amount of light (in the correct part of the spectrum) back in. (In fact, as a recent slashdot story mentioned, it sometimes allows you to see in the UV!).

I wonder if people will choose to have cataract surgery done even if they have no cataracts. My mom was recently evaluated for the surgery, evidently it's a (relatively) simple procedure; the patient goes home the same day and only has mild discomfort for a few days.

Hi Carl!

Re:Cataract Surgery (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 2 years ago | (#39113139)

I think the average slashdotter would rather be able to see in the infra-red range [omg-facts.com] , not the ultra-violet range.

Re:Cataract Surgery (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39113673)

My mom had cataract surgery done and was shocked at how much brighter the world was. While they were at it they fixed her vision so she only really needed reading glasses. She was used to wearing bifocals at all times. This totally screwed her up for about a year. Her vision was one way for 60+ years (well aside from the gradual changes over time) and suddenly was completely different. She actually hated it at the time. The plus side was that her seasonal depression went away. Now that she is used to the change it does not bother her and she is actually much happier.

Re:Cataract Surgery (1)

xmas2003 (739875) | about 2 years ago | (#39113841)

As the person who has Ultraviolet vision after Cataract Surgery, [komar.org] a reminder that many IOL's (Intra-Ocular-Lens) actually do filter UV light - this is also mentioned in TFA. I've read quite a bit of Mainster & Turner's work and while I'm a wanna-be-eye-doctor at best, believe they are "right" in that you should not filter UV with an IOL.

Re:Cataract Surgery (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#39113845)

I'm curious about the control groups used for these studies. I only have access to one of the articles the NYT links to, but in that study they compared reaction times before and after cataract surgery. What they didn't do is compare the effects of clear lenses vs blue blocking lenses.

It seems to me that blue blocking lenses are the appropriate control, and since they are in common use there shouldn't be any problems getting that past the IRB. Actually, if I were on the IRB I wouldn't have let this experimental design proceed. It doesn't tell us anything about the actual question they asked (does blue light affect reaction time?).

Re:Cataract Surgery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39114951)

Cataract surgery CAN go bad, and if it does and it causes a blood leak into the aquous humor, you will be blind for quite a while (years, if not forever). You get that surgery done when it is time to do it, not before, and certainly not for something you can cure by exposing yourself to strong light at morning, which can easily be done either the proper way (force yourself to wake up earlier and go outside), or the nerd-way (buy full-spectrum high-power light sources, and subject yourself to it while getting ready for work).

Re:Cataract Surgery (1)

assertation (1255714) | about 2 years ago | (#39115013)

My father was never a reader, as long as I can remember. In his mid 70s he was also a computerphobe.

One day his wife told me that he finally broke down and had cataract surgery ( I didn't even know he had a problem ).

He took my advice, got a Mac and took the Mac classes. He learned enough to make his own web site and I can now communicate with him via email and have read links to articles I send to him.

He even reads books I buy for him now.

Re:Cataract Surgery (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#39116543)

I wonder if people will choose to have cataract surgery done even if they have no cataracts.

Actually, they already do. "Cataract surgery" is an amputation; your eye's lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one. The newest one can even focus, as it sits on struts inside the lens capsule. These will not only cure cataracts, but nearsightedness, farsightedness (even age-related), and astigmatism.

I wore thick glasses all my life until steroid eye drops gave me a cataract in my left eye. Now I wear no corrective lenses at all, not even reading glasses, and I'll be 60 in a couple of months.

If you have the cash you can get the surgery without having cataracts. It's painless (I had no discomfort at all and could read the clock on the wall of the recovery room) but it does kind of freak you out when they stick that needle in your eye.

Silly doctors. (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 2 years ago | (#39113105)

Direct sunlight, with its ionizing radiation? Are they crazy?

The obvious solution is to preserve our delicate photoreceptors by avoiding light as much as possible... at least for the decade or two it takes engineers to invent replacement eyes.

And if we really need periods of intense light during the day, well, that's why God made enormous LED-lit displays.

How does going outside help? (1)

Lije Baley (88936) | about 2 years ago | (#39113159)

If you live in Seattle, it doesn't matter how old you are.

Re:How does going outside help? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#39113617)

Actually, it turns out that's not the only [invw.org] Seattle-related health problem. Time to move, maybe?

Re:How does going outside help? (1)

gangien (151940) | about 2 years ago | (#39115049)

i was gonna make that joke too.

I always thought it was the other way around... (1)

MindPrison (864299) | about 2 years ago | (#39113169)

I've always been careful with both my eyes and ears, ok - they're not the same, but at least for my ears...I'm over 40 and have tested my ears with delicate test-instruments and top-notch headphones, and can still hear well in the 20Khz range, 23 Khz, when I was 20 years old.

Same for vision, while I do notice in the dark...that the exact center spot of my eye, blocks the weakest of light, I can still see pretty much the way I did as a kid, and I always kept low light conditions, and wasn't much exposed to the sun at all.

Those however that did - doesn't even have anything CLOSE to my vision, so I really wonder. Maybe it's the diet.

I've also noticed that if I eat vegetables for 14 days straight, my vision increase to extreme sensibility, and gets "night-ready" faster.

Go figure...

Re:I always thought it was the other way around... (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#39113247)

Same for vision, while I do notice in the dark...that the exact center spot of my eye, blocks the weakest of light

It's not quite "blocking" the light. The center of your eye has the highest concentration of cones, which are optimized for colors and bright light. It also has the lowest concentration of rods, which are optimized for dim light of any color.

So it's not that there's anything blocking dim light in the center of your eyes. It's that there just aren't sensitive light detectors in that area.

Re:I always thought it was the other way around... (3, Informative)

Opyros (1153335) | about 2 years ago | (#39113687)

Apparently, there is a third type of receptor [discovermagazine.com] which mattters a great deal to the circadian rhythm.

Re:I always thought it was the other way around... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39113317)

Gollum, is that you?

Joking aside. You should protect your eyes from UV light, but light isn't bad for them. You don't seem to know about vitamin A or the difference in your eye between rods and cones. You also might not get enough vitamin D if you're totally avoiding light exposure.

Re:I always thought it was the other way around... (4, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#39113399)

I have some good news for you: everyone is blind in the middle of their field of vision in a dark environment. The centre of the retina is extremely crowded [gsu.edu] with bright-light/colour vision cones, which is what gives us our excellent ability to see detail. There's just no room for rods left over, so we get a dark spot in our night vision instead.

Re:I always thought it was the other way around... (1)

MindPrison (864299) | about 2 years ago | (#39114303)

Well, there you go, that IS good news, thanks ;)

Wouldn't it be easier to just... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39113251)

use melatonin supplements?

I mean, why use surgery to fix things on old people when you can just fix the problem with a cheap solution?

Also, isn't the concept of people living beyond the age of 70 relatively new in human society? Maybe we just haven't evolved (or our "intelligent design" hasn't kicked in) for this new development yet. I mean, doesn't it take more than a couple centuries for significant changes to occur?

Dont know about the elderly (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about 2 years ago | (#39113289)

But their bad eyes are certainly contributing to my car insurance woes.

It's simpler than that.... (5, Informative)

John Murdoch (102085) | about 2 years ago | (#39113321)

I had cataract surgery in my left eye (which is the dominant eye) four years ago, at age 49. I had cataract surgery in the right eye 18 months later.

Simply put--as your eyes cloud over, your brain has to work substantially harder to compensate. Your brain has to decipher blurred vision, compensate for the "halo" effect cataracts give you around bright lights (the reason why older people don't drive at night is the halo effect of oncoming headlights--completely blinding them).

All of that changes with cataract surgery--you don't just see better. (And you see MUCH better--if you wore corrective lenses beforehand they implant a custom-fit lens that corrects your vision to 20/20 or better.) All of the "clock cycles" that your brain was devoting to countering the effects of cataracts (even things like keeping your balance) are all of a sudden freed up. The change is dramatic--it really is life-transforming.

My mother-in-law is 90--she had cataract surgery last fall. Last summer, before the surgery, her daughters were wondering about "what are we going to do about Mom"--at the time I suggested that they wait till after the cataract surgery; I was sure it would have a big impact. Boy, did it--my mother-in-law is active, alert, far more capable, and busy with plans for an expanded vegetable garden this summer.

Until you go through the experience, you can't really understand how much effort your brain puts into interpreting what you see. The impact of cataract surgery is unbelievable.

Re:It's simpler than that.... (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#39113503)

I can corroborate that with my own experience with astigmatism. Without my correction, my brain manages* - but it seems at a cost as I have a lot more general fatigue and not-giving-a-shit.

* - without correction, I get triple vision but with a low angle - eg each eye has slight double vision, with the false images being a bit weaker, "blurred" (closer to smeared), and offset at different angles and rotation. After a few minutes (about 10 to 15) my "correction" kicks in and I only notice this when only one eye can see something, or point light sources (think LEDs, text on a screen, looking in a scope). I believe my brain starts to discard information that both eyes don't see, if possible. This results in some loss of definition for surfaces - I can see the shapes of things clearly, but it's almost like someone turned the world's texture resolution down.

Re:It's simpler than that.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39114621)

What happened to your eyes? I have the same symptoms, but the astigmatism was induced by a botched lasik job.

http://photo.omnistep.com/mylasikvision/

Re:It's simpler than that.... (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#39115889)

Born that way I suppose. It progressed in my late teens to how it is now (mid 20s) - no idea if it's staying where it is or not.

I've been wearing the same (my first) prescription for a few years and I don't think I need a new pair, except for the few scratches etc.

Re:It's simpler than that.... (1)

gknoy (899301) | about 2 years ago | (#39116439)

Holy cow. Is there any treatment for that? That sounds like pure living hell.

Re:It's simpler than that.... (1)

durrr (1316311) | about 2 years ago | (#39113593)

I'm somewhat near sighted, getting glasses was like upgrading that 8 year old computer. Was a very neat transition. That said, how much did the lens manufacturer pay you for that post?

Correlation with the Move to AZ and FL? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39113395)

Is there any psychological correlation with this phenomena and the desire to move to the brighter sunnier states - like Arizona and Florida - when one hits 75?

Re:Correlation with the Move to AZ and FL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39114097)

Yes

Re:Correlation with the Move to AZ and FL? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39116103)

No. Rather, as you age, you will notice your skin gets all wrinkly and scaly and you will lose the ability to regulate your body temperature. Eventually you will fully transform into a reptile. At this stage you will have a natural urge to head for warmer climes.

mod uP (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39113489)

pr0spects are [gay-Jsex-access.com]?

A Factor (1)

someWebGeek (2566673) | about 2 years ago | (#39113597)

Let's try to temper this discovery (not so much new as newly re-emphasized by this work) with the understanding that, it is only one of many contributing factors. Surviving longer allows us to encounter a plethora of new-&-improved woes for old folks. Sure, getting out and soaking up more rays is a good thing when properly managed, but let's not go overboard and attribute to one cause that which is complexly determined.

Memory's the first thing to go. I forget what the second is.

The Olde' Eyes (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about 2 years ago | (#39113723)

And the gov gives no thought to the older generation when they mandate getting rid of incandescent bulbs and have us use the "energy saving", (what amounts to dim candles) bulbs.

Re:The Olde' Eyes (2)

hardie (716254) | about 2 years ago | (#39113955)

If you think they're dim, buy a brighter bulb. Dim isn't the fault of the bulb technology.
You can even get different color temperatures. The 5000K ones are pretty nice.

Re:The Olde' Eyes (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about 2 years ago | (#39113965)

And the gov gives no thought to the older generation when they mandate getting rid of incandescent bulbs and have us use the "energy saving", (what amounts to dim candles) bulbs.
Reality: lots of incandescent bulbs are and will remain on the market. LED and halogen bulbs are and will remain on the market. And even in the CFL zone, it's easy enough to jump from 15 to 26 W to get sufficient candlepower output, and you now have a wide range of color temperature-equivalent bulbs. Not that I think any of this will reduce total energy consumption, but that's a separate topic and has been covered often on /. .

Re:The Olde' Eyes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39114037)

Yes, my F1 car is also much faster than my electric golf cart ...

You can get energy saving bulbs in just the same brightnesses as incandescent bulbs.

Re:The Olde' Eyes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39114319)

Fuck off and die. I hate the low-efficiency bulb ban as much as anyone (assuming for the sake of argument the government has a right and duty to improve lighting efficiency, a tax is a much better way to do such things than an outright ban with exceptions for (most) legitimate reasons they're needed), but just fuck off and die if you're gonna be so ignorant.

First, if you cared about brightness and quality, you'd already be using halogens -- which are also more efficient than vacuum or inert bulbs, and thus not included in the ban.

Second, at a given power level, you can get more light with LED or CFL bulbs. Or you can get the same light level, with less power -- though the "xxW Equivalent" on the packaging is worthless, look at the lumens of your old bulbs, and pick one the same or higher.

Finally, the banned bulbs have low CCT, therefore little blue light content, therefore worse even at the same brightness level vs. some CFL and LED bulbs. (Sadly, because there's a lot of people who like the sickly yellow light of a long-life vacuum bulb -- because they're used to it, and refuse to get used to objectively better ~5000K light -- a lot of the CFLs and LEDs are "warm white" (low CCT), which sucks ass. And no, it doesn't do a damned thing to change the (very real, but small for most purposes) spectral deficiencies of CFLs and LEDs. It just makes them ugly piss yellow.)

No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39113749)

This sounds like anti-aging! Aging is natural and makes us better and wiser! We shouldn't tinker with nature! Except when it comes to colonizing Mars, well then we should go all out on the technology. Because nothing is more important than sending middle-aged weak apes to other planets.

How about people in the PNW? (1)

SwedishChef (69313) | about 2 years ago | (#39113781)

What does this theory say about the poor folks who live in places like Seattle and Portland? Are they all doomed to a dismal old age at age 45? This would mean I waited too long to move away. :P

Floaters (2)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 2 years ago | (#39114077)

I just hope someone is working on 'floaters' in eyes as well; I have one already before the age of 50 and was told by an opthamologist nothing can be done about them.

Re:Floaters (2)

MindPrison (864299) | about 2 years ago | (#39114483)

Argh...I hate floaters... I've had them since I was about 25. Now I'm around 40 and STILL have them, one of them got firmly stuck in the middle (focus center) and was in focus all the time, like a pearl-threaded-snake-necklace or something, vigorously shaking my eyes every day for nearly 2 years, finally "shook" it lose, so it's just floating around like the other floaters now.

But you can "program" your brain to ignore the floaters, that's what I have done, it works...just sort of tell yourself to completely ignore them, and try to avert focusing in on them, but look at other spots in the room, monitor, outside etc. After practicing, the floaters goes away, yes...they're still there...but training helps the brain totally wipe them out "mentally". Weird...yes, but it works.

Re:Floaters (1)

jerryjnormandin (1942378) | about 2 years ago | (#39116031)

I've got floaters. I've had one since I could see! I've got one that shape of a bubble. It's small when I'm reading but if I look far away it can be the size if a dime @ 12 feet away ( yeah I measured it). It's translucent so I can see through it, though it's shaded like a bubble. I had one that was shaped like a M.... small and above the bubble. I was always told to ignore them. but now I dunno. I'm older and the one that looked like an M has changed shape. It's a curve now. same position. Treatment for bad floaters is they suck the aqueous humor out, replace it with saline. Your body replaces the saline with new aqueous humor. But I don't want to risk it. I figured I'd have more floaters after the procedure. I know what you are saying... floaters suck. I think the threaded ones are capillaries that broke off due to an injury.. like head trauma. I played football in high school, and after a few hard hits that's when the M shaped floater showed up.

Re:Yes (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 2 years ago | (#39115663)

I know someone who had some surgery - they drained the fluid, fixed stuff, and re-filled the eye. In the process, they filtered out the floaters.

Maybe it was cataract, I don't remember. But yes, those can be removed. I doubt any doctor would do surgery just for those, of course.

Testable theory (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 2 years ago | (#39114119)

Most of this should be fairly easily testable with statistical methods. Do people living in low-sunlight environments (eg: perpetually foggy or cloudy areas, or close to the poles during the dark months) show a higher incidence of all the same "aging" problems than their age would imply?

Interesting hypothesis but... (1)

synthespian (563437) | about 2 years ago | (#39114143)

Young adults in industrialised countries typically receive only 20–120 min of daily light exposure exceeding 1000 lux.42 87 108 109 Elderly adults’ bright light exposures average only 1/3 to 2/3 that duration.42 110 Institutionalised elderly receive less than 10 min per day of light exposure exceeding 1000 lux,55 111 with median illuminances as low as 54 lux.55

The article was very interesting. However, how would it stack up against other epidemiological data, such as the fact that depression in Brazil (lots, and lots of sunlight), approaches U.S. rates of depression?

http://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20110726/richer-countries-have-higher-depression-rates [webmd.com]

I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39114153)

Scientists have looked for explanations as to why certain conditions occur with age, among them memory loss, slower reaction time, insomnia and even depression looking at such suspects as high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease and an inactive lifestyle

Gee, I don't know, because of OLD AGE?

Thank the heavens there are such geniuses around leading to scientific break-throughs of such magnitude.

Poor summary (3, Informative)

Angostura (703910) | about 2 years ago | (#39114255)

From the original abstract: " A 45-year-old adult retains only half the circadian photoreception of early youth" which the summary translates into: "by age 45, the photoreceptors of the average adult receive just 50 percent of the light needed to fully stimulate the circadian system".

Sigh.

Why Was Helen Keller So Upbeat Then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39114377)

Blind people should have a dramatically higher incidence of all these issues in old age, if the claim is valid. Surprised they didn't do that study as well.

Melatonin (1)

Rie Beam (632299) | about 2 years ago | (#39114663)

For those who use it, you understand.

Re:Melatonin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39115697)

It's banned in most 1st world nations. Not surprisingly, it's legal in the USA.

It's also surprising how many people consider the really complex, difficult, and potentially dangerous option before going for the easy and simple option: melatonin.

Melatonin has also been proven to cure insanity in people that haven't slept in over 20 days.

Switch to LED light bulbs (2)

Jeff1946 (944062) | about 2 years ago | (#39114823)

White leds are actually blue leds with a phosphor to down convert some of the blue to yellow and red. If you look at the spectrum of white leds (go the Cree web site) you will see there is a peak in the blue part of the spectrum, particularly with the "cooler white" versions which should be helpful as a daytime light for folks who have a problem with their circadian rhythms.

Sunlamps, cancer, eye damage and melantonin? (1)

assertation (1255714) | about 2 years ago | (#39114957)

The gadget lover in me has thought about getting a sunlight lamp for years. I've heard that they can damage eyes or cause cancer. Is this true? If not, can anyone tell what is a reasonable price and or model of one?

Would melatonin work just as well for circadian rhythm issues?

I think I'm doing this wrong (1)

Jason Straight (58248) | about 2 years ago | (#39115659)

And here I sit with my windows blocked off because I thought the sunlight was causing fatigue on my eyes, making me tired.

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