If you are over 40, you may have noticed changes in your vision. Your eyes may be drier, you may have blurring when you look at far-away objects, or you may need to take off your glasses when you read. Your eye doctor may even have suggested bifocals to help you focus on close objects.

The natural eye changes that occur with age can also affect night vision. It can be hard to accept that we—and our eyes—are aging, but ignoring changes in night vision can increase your risk of becoming a victim of a Milwaukee car accident.

Changes in the pupils

The iris, or colored part of the eye, includes a set of tiny muscles that expand and contract to adjust the amount of light that reaches the eye through the pupil. When there’s a lot of light, the iris causes the pupil to shrink. When there is little light, the pupil expands. With age, the muscles in the eye get weaker and less responsive. It takes longer for the eye to adjust to dark or light, and less light is allowed in. A young adult has a pupil that expands to about five millimeters in diameter. In old age, the pupil expands to only 3 millimeters. As less light enters the eye, it becomes difficult to see—especially in the dark.

Changes in the lens

The lens is the flexible and transparent part of the eye that focuses the light the eye detects onto the retina. In young people, the lens can change shape to adjust to close up or distance vision. After the age of 40, the lens of the eye begins to stiffen making it hard to accommodate for changes in distance. Bifocals are designed to help.

The lens also becomes less transparent. This means that less light passes through, so it is harder to see at night. When part of the lens becomes opaque, the condition is called a cataract. Warning signs of cataracts are blurry vision, difficulty with glare, and low night vision.

Changes in the rods

The retina contains two types of cells, cones and rods, which translate the light that hits the eye into images. Cones respond to colored light and provide visual detail and contrast. Rods create black and white images; they are the cells on the retina that are responsible for night vision. As we age, the number of cones in the eye decreases. This makes it harder to see at night.

Preserving eye health…and road safety

Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables may slow the natural aging of the eye, but no one is immune. Older adults are also more likely to be affected by eye diseases. Nearly one-third of adults age 40 and older suffer from age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, or cataracts.

Changes in the eye can affect both vision and reaction time. It is recommended that drivers over 40 have annual eye exams in order to catch eye problems before they affect driving. But not all changes can be found in an eye doctor's office. Let your optometrist know if you’ve experienced any problems with blurring, glare or reduced vision especially while driving at night.

The Milwaukee accident attorneys at Hupy and Abraham provide a library of information for Wisconsin accident victims. Browse through our site to learn more about preventing car crashes and what to do if you or a family member is injured in a Wisconsin car accident. For more information, request a free copy of The Ultimate Guide For Automobile Accident Victims, or contact Hupy and Abraham at 800-800-5678.