We all know that some things seem to occur with age such as memory loss, slower reaction time, insomnia and even depression. Scientists have long suspected high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease and an inactive lifestyle as culprits. However, new research has its eye on something else: the aging of the eye.
Studies suggest that the gradual yellowing of the lens and the narrowing of the pupil that occur as we age disturb our body's circadian rhythm, that contribute to a range of health problems. As our eyes age, less sunlight reaches key cells in the retina that regulate the body's circadian rhythm, or its internal clock.
"We believe the effect is huge and that it's just beginning to be recognized as a problem," said Dr. Patricia Turner, an ophthalmologist in Leawood, Kan., who with her husband, Dr. Martin Mainster, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Kansas Medical School, has written extensively about the effects of the aging eye on health.
Our internal clocks rely on light to function properly, and studies have found that people whose circadian rhythms are out of sync, like shift workers, are at greater risk for a number of ailments, including insomnia, heart disease and cancer.
Source: Tarkan, Laurie. Aging of Eyes Is Blamed for Range of Health Woes. NYTimes.com, 20 Feb 2012.