Aging changes in the senses medlineplus medical encyclopedia eseva electricity bill payment

Age-related hearing loss is called presbycusis. It affects both ears. Hearing, often the ability to hear high-frequency sounds, may decline. You may also have trouble telling the difference between certain sounds. Or, you may have problems hearing a conversation when there is background noise. If you are having trouble hearing, discuss your symptoms with your health care provider. One way to manage hearing loss is by getting fitted with hearing aids.

Persistent, abnormal ear noise ( tinnitus) is another common problem in older adults. Causes of tinnitus may include wax buildup or medicines that damage structures inside the ear. If you have tinnitus, ask your provider how to manage the condition.

Vision occurs when light is processed by your eye and interpreted by your brain. Light passes through the transparent eye surface (cornea). It continues through the pupil, the opening to the inside of the eye. The pupil becomes larger or smaller to control the amount of light that enters the eye. The colored part of the eye is called the iris. It is a muscle that controls pupil size. After light passes through your pupil, it reaches the lens. The lens focuses light on your retina (the back of the eye). The retina converts light energy into a nerve signal that the optic nerve carries to the brain, where it is interpreted.

All of the eye structures change with aging. The cornea becomes less sensitive, so you might not notice eye injuries. By the time you turn 60, your pupils may decrease to about one third of the size they were when you were 20. The pupils may react more slowly in response to darkness or bright light. The lens becomes yellowed, less flexible, and slightly cloudy. The fat pads supporting the eyes decrease and the eyes sink into their sockets. The eye muscles become less able to fully rotate the eye.

As you age, the sharpness of your vision ( visual acuity) gradually declines. The most common problem is difficulty focusing the eyes on close-up objects. This condition is called called presbyopia. Reading glasses, bifocal glasses, or contact lenses can help correct presbyopia.

You may be less able to tolerate glare. For example, glare from a shiny floor in a sunlit room can make it difficult to get around indoors. You may have trouble adapting to darkness or bright light. Problems with glare, brightness, and darkness may make you give up driving at night.

As you age, it gets harder to tell blues from greens than it is to tell reds from yellows. Using warm contrasting colors (yellow, orange, and red) in your home can improve your ability to see. Keeping a red light on in darkened rooms, such as the hallway or bathroom, makes it easier to see than using a regular night light.

With aging, the gel-like substance (vitreous) inside your eye starts to shrink. This can create small particles called floaters in your field of vision. In most cases, floaters do not reduce your vision. But if you develop floaters suddenly or have a rapid increase in the number of floaters, you should have your eyes checked by a professional.

Reduced peripheral vision (side vision) is common in older people. This can limit your activity and ability to interact with others. It may be hard to communicate with people sitting next to you because you cannot see them well. Driving can become dangerous.

The number of taste buds decreases as you age. Each remaining taste bud also begins to shrink. Sensitivity to the five tastes often declines after age 60. In addition, your mouth produces less saliva as you age. This can cause dry mouth, which can affect your sense of taste.

Your sense of smell can also diminish, especially after age 70. This may be related to a loss of nerve endings and less mucus production in the nose. Mucus helps odors stay in the nose long enough to be detected by the nerve endings. It also helps clear odors from the nerve endings.

The sense of touch makes you aware of pain, temperature, pressure, vibration, and body position. Skin, muscles, tendons, joints, and internal organs have nerve endings (receptors) that detect these sensations. Some receptors give the brain information about the position and condition of internal organs. Though you may not be aware of this information, it helps to identify changes (for example, the pain of appendicitis).

Your brain interprets the type and amount of touch sensation. It also interprets the sensation as pleasant (such as being comfortably warm), unpleasant (such as being very hot), or neutral (such as being aware that you are touching something).

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