Effects of Aging on the Senses

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Chapter: Anatomy and Physiology for Health Professionals: Special Senses

Aging affects each of the senses in varying ways. The eyes begin to lose the ability to see clearly up close or to focus when not in bright light.



Effects of Aging on the Senses

Aging affects each of the senses in varying ways. The eyes begin to lose the ability to see clearly up close or to focus when not in bright light. The tissues of the eyes may become drier and the skin around the eyes may sag. The iris loses flexibility and cataracts may form slowly over time. Pressure changes in the eyes can lead to glaucoma. Macular degeneration destroys sharp, central vision. FIGURE 15-17 illustrates common visual problems.

Hearing loss progresses with age and affects men more than women. The ear canals become thinner, earwax production changes, and the ability to perceive certain ranges of frequencies becomes difficult or even impossible. The eardrums thicken and loss of hair cells in the ear brings about hearing difficulties. Causes of hair cell loss include nerve damage, trauma, loud noises, and certain medications. Aging also affects our balance and coordination and the perception of smells and tastes.



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