Posted on Mar 30, 2020, 8 p.m.
At some point in our lives almost everyone will need a little help from a pair of reading glasses, due to the eyes naturally losing the ability to focus up close with age. The condition is called presbyopia, and it occurs when the lenses inside the eyes become less flexible.
"Presbyopia can't be prevented or reversed," says Dr. Matthew Gardiner, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear. "The condition may worsen over time, to where you need to change your eyeglass prescription frequently. However, by age 60, most changes in near vision begin to slow, and you need upgrades less often."
Common symptoms include but are not limited to needing to hold reading materials at an arm’s length, blurred vision, and eye fatigue when doing close up work. Those over the age of 50 should have their vision checked periodically even if there aren’t any issues to detect changes you may not be aware of or other eye issues such as cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration.
Reading glasses or bifocals can help with issues seeing from far away. If the presbyopia is not too severe drugstore reading glasses may even help instead of prescription reading glasses as they work like magnifiers. Drugstore glasses are measured in diopter power units, and range from +1.25 to +3.50 in increments of +0.25; start with the lowest power first and work your way up until you find the right numbers that will help you read clearly at a comfortable distance.
Even if you have proper reading glasses you may still have trouble seeing clearly up close. Try using an eye lubricant as tear glands produce fewer tears overtime, and without enough moisture it can be harder to focus up close. Increasing the brightness in the room with stronger bulbs or a reading lamp may also help.
If you are in front of a screen/monitor for long periods of time take regular rest periods every 20 minutes for 20 seconds to ease some of the eye strain, and perhaps increase the font size as well as adjust the brightness and contrast to make viewing more easy. Spectacle mounted magnifiers may come in handy for performing up close tasks. Magnifying glasses come in all sorts of sizes and may be useful for reading small items and labels.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement