The aging eye sees colors differently as we age. The natural yellowing of the lens has a lot to do with this. It is thought that older people see the world through a color similar to ginger ale. This could influence our risk for falls. However, we can adjust for these physical changes by creating color contrast in our homes. Wall color, furniture, rugs are all features we can use to achieve color contrast. Sheen level on furniture, paint, texture, and natural and artificial lighting also play a big role in achieving this goal. Please listen to part 3 of this episode series to learn more about how you can create a safer and more functional home environment.Support the show
[00:00:00] Hello, and thank you for being with me again today. This is part three of a three part episode on Common Eye Problems in Older Adults, and today I am going to be talking about how color vision changes as we age, and consequently how it affects how we function with everyday activities. So, Tasks that rely on color.
Vision can include distinguishing among pill colors, finding a car in a parking lot and even matching your clothes. Mismatch clothes could give the impression of a cognitive disability rather than a vision one. While color vision abnormalities were uncommon in people younger than 70 years old, they [00:01:00] were present in about 45% of people in their mid seventies, up to 50% of those 85 and older, and nearly two thirds of those in their mid nineties.
So obviously this is affecting a lot of people. Nearly 80% of the abnormalities involved. Confusion of lighter shades of blue versus purple and yellow versus green. So this goes back to what I was saying in the previous two episodes, that older people have a more difficult time distinguishing. Blues and greens as opposed to warmer colors, such as red oranges and gold.
Researchers say that the new results confirm previous studies showing that color vision deteriorates [00:02:00] measurably with aging and that most subtle aging related color vision abnormalities are likely to go. If testing isn't done, So what does this mean? That if we don't actually realize that these changes are happening, and according to the research they're happening just because of the fact that we're getting older.
So that means that we need to be changing our environment so that our environment works for. And if low vision is a common problem and actually starts happening as a really as age 35 or 40, then we really need to pay attention to this. And we need to change our environment so that we can function as best as we can so that we reduce our fall risk.
Which again falls in older adults is one of the most common reason. [00:03:00] Why people age 65 and older end up in the hospital or results in death. So this is a very serious problem, and it can change our lives forever, and it can make the difference between having golden years or having terrible years for the rest of our lives.
So preventing a fall is the most important thing. We need to do as we get older. So now let's go into factors that may contribute to changes in color vision with aging, and to blue yellow recognition, especially with reduced pupil size, which allows less light into the. Increased yellowing of the lens inside the eye.
Remember I mentioned this in the last episode, that as we age, our lens [00:04:00] naturally becomes yellow and fluorescent, and the proteins in the lens, which are literally as old as we are also going to lead to oxidation, and it's going to lead us to see everything through a yellow browns. So we also have increased rates of eye diseases, which include all of the eye diseases that I mentioned in the last episode, which unfortunately is a long list.
And then we also have changes in the sensitivity of the vision pathways. So this has nothing to do with those eye diseases, it is just a natural part of aging.
I just wanted to discuss these issues because it really does make a difference and have an impact on how we function and even if we're aging in a healthy way and we're still very [00:05:00] functional and doing a lot better than other people we may know that are older, these changes are still happening to.
And so it's important to recognize that so that it doesn't catch us by surprise and we aren't fooled by thinking that we're actually healthier than we are, or that these changes aren't happening at all. It's actually better to be aware of them and plan for them, and like I said, change our environment.
That's all we have to do. All we have to do is change the colors that we use. In our environment, and that includes the colors that we put on our walls or the color of our furniture or the color of our rugs how we. Match and mix colors is a big thing because as I've said in other episodes, we [00:06:00] want to include color contrast in our design because color contrast is going to help us differentiate where one surface ends and another begins.
And we can also use texture. So texture, Let's say that you have texture on your couch. Let's say you that you have a fabric that is not smooth, well, that texture is actually going to make that couch more visible to you. And same thing if you have, let's say, texture on your rug or you place a.
So we just need to take all of these things into account. These are just a few of the most common eye problems in older adults and I, as I've said earlier, if you are experiencing any changes in your vision, it is important to see an eye doctor for a comprehensive assessment. Addressing your eye health appropriately [00:07:00] will help you or a loved one prevent a fall and continue to have quality of life well into your golden years.
Thank you for being with me today, and this concludes our three part series of common eye problems in older adults.