Study: Aging Eyes Responsible for Insomnia, Depression, Memory Loss

New research suggests the yellowing of the eyes and narrowing of the pupil with age might be responsible for health problems such as memory loss, slower reaction time, insomnia and depression, according to a New York Times report.

Martin Mainster, MD, and Patricia Turner, MD, of the University of Kansas School of Medicine, found the changes result in less sunlight reaching the photoreceptive cells in the retina and upset the body's circadian rhythm, the study claims. These cells absorb sunlight and transmit message to the suprachiasmatic nucleus part of the brain which releases melatonin at night and cortisol in the morning to regulate the body's circadian rhythm.

Part of the problem is that as the eye ages, it loses its ability to absorb blue light, which photoreceptive cells are especially responsive to. In another study, Drs. Mainster and Turner found by age 45, the eyes only absorb 50 percent of the light needed to properly stimulate the circadian system.

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