Aging Eye More Susceptible to Serious Damage

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Eye Damage

Increasing stiffness of the aging eye may make older adults more susceptible to eye damage following trauma, according to research at Wake Forest-Virginia Tech School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.

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"The gradual change in lens stiffness during a person's lifetime leads to a lens that is four times stiffer than at birth, and this has implications for the likelihood of eye injury," said Joel D. Stitzel, Ph.D., of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest Center for Injury Biomechanics, and three colleagues, writing in the June issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Using a computer model of the eye, Stitzel and colleagues investigated possible injury mechanisms in the eyes of elderly individuals and the effects of lens stiffness on injury prediction by the model. The new data document that the risk of certain types of eye injury increases with age.

"General testing of the mechanical characteristics of the entire lens suggests that aging of the human lens is associated with a progressive loss of mechanical strength," Stitzel said.

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