Humans are outliving their eyeballs, says expert

January 7th, 2009 - 5:08 pm ICT by ANI  

Wellington, Jan 7 (ANI): While people are living longer as a result of improved health standards, humans are starting to outlive their eyeballs, according to Australian researchers.

The researchers are working on ways to slow the way vision deteriorates with age.

Professor Jonathan Stone said that at birth each eyeball has about 150 million light-catching “photoreceptors”, which are lost at a rate of several hundred every day.

And a person’’s vision deteriorates over time because of this very natural process.

The researchers said that while many people into their 80s still have 100 million-plus photoreceptors per eye, there are others for whom it means a loss of night vision or even blindness.

Stone said improved health standards has given a boost to longevity in humans, and thus new techniques were needed to slow down the winking out of these photoreceptors which cannot be regrown.

“The clinical evidence is the retina goes well really into your eighth decade (80 years), depending on how fast you”ve lost your photoreceptors and that changes because of genetic factors,” The NZPA quoted Stone as saying.

He added: We”re exploring these environmental ways of stabilising these photoreceptors into the ninth and tenth decade … what this is all about is preserving that as long as possible into late age.”

Now, scientists are conducting research to better understand how antioxidants-rich foods help to protect eyes against light damage.

It is observed that people undergoing treatment in hyperbaric chambers can report a temporary side-effect of improved vision, and thus scientists are aiming towards finding out how the eye benefits from oxygen-rich environments.

Stone suggested that people over 20 years of age should always wear sunglasses when outdoors in bright light.

However, the same doesnt hold true for adolescents, for they need light exposure while their eyes were developing to prevent the onset of near-sightedness, he said. (ANI)

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