Aging Eyes Disturb Circadian Rhythms

Research done by cataract surgeons in Florida says that naturally aging eyes can disturb circadian rhythms. This in turn can lead to a laundry list of health problems for older people. Health concerns such as insomnia, memory loss, and depression may be understandable in people who do not sleep well. However, recent studies also point to high cholesterol, inactive lifestyles, obesity, and heart disease as a result of aging eyes, too.

As humans age, the narrowing of the pupil and yellowing of the lens contribute to irregularities in circadian rhythms. This internal clock is what helps us get up in the morning and fall asleep at night. This is done because of blue light being regulated through photoreceptive cells by absorbing sunlight. Messages transmitted to the brain cause a release of melatonin and cortisol. Aging eyes cause the reception of blue light to diminish which interrupts messages to the brain governing circadian rhythms.

Eye doctors recommend older people suffering from sleep loss, and symptoms related to sleep loss, be checked for cataracts. Cataract surgery and the replacement of the natural lens with an intraocular lens (IOL) reduces insomnia, because blue light is allowed through uninterrupted. Studies also show a reduction in daytime sleepiness and improved reaction time after cataract surgery.

Eye doctors suggest patients get exposure to bright sunlight and bright indoor lighting daily to help counteract aging on the eyes. Further studies on aging eyes, blue light exposure, and cataracts, and how they interact with circadian rhythms will do much to improve overall human health in the future.

If you are suffering from insomnia, find an experienced eye doctor in your area to test you for cataracts.