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A Guide to Eye Health for the Over 40’s

With age comes wisdom and unfortunately, also the decline in your up-close vision. It’s no secret that vision commonly goes downhill in your 40s, and presbyopia is often to blame. Never heard of presbyopia? If you find yourself holding the newspaper or menu at arm’s length to make out any of the words, you probably know more about it than you think.

Presbyopia, or “old eye” in Greek, is the normal, age-related loss of near focusing ability. Affecting over 1 billion people globally, presbyopia is experienced by most 40-somethings, whether they know it or not. Symptoms of presbyopia include having a hard time reading small print, having to hold reading material farther than arm’s distance, problems seeing objects that are close to you, headaches and eyestrain.  If these symptoms sound familiar to you, it is time to schedule your next eye exam. Presbyopia can be found during a comprehensive dilated eye exam, so it is crucial not to fall behind on your annual checkups in your 40s.

Measures to prevent presbyopia from impacting our vision have yet been discovered, but there are a few ways to help delayearly onset of vision impairment:

  • Avoid reading glasses from the drug store- Naturally, people often select glasses that make things appear the clearest. However, that prescription is often stronger than they need, which can result in a quicker loss of eye focus.
  • Eat more dark, leafy greens- Aside from the cancer protection and cholesterol lowering attributes, dark, leafy greens also contain carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that reduce the risk and progression of age-related macular degeneration.
  • Encourage outdoor activity for children- Two recent studies from the American Academy of Ophthalmology contain evidence supporting the claim that physical activity outside, such as recess, can help prevent or minimize nearsightedness. Of course, it’s important to ensure your eyes are protected from harmful UV light while in the sun.

While presbyopia cannot be avoided, it is easily corrected by wearing glasses with bifocal or progressive lenses. A bifocal lens is split into two parts to allow distance viewing in the top part and up close seeing in the bottom. Progressive lenses, also known as no-line bifocals, are multifocal lenses that allow a seamless transition between all viewing distances. Your eye doctor can advise you to which type is best for you.

Living with presbyopia can be an adjustment, but there are ways help to alleviate the effects. Keeping your prescription accurate and up to date is key, which can be achieved by scheduling annual eye doctor appointments. Breaking up long periods of time on close-up work is also helpful, as spending extended periods reading text that requires you to squint can cause eye strain and headaches. Lastly, always remember that presbyopia is not a visual defect, but a natural change in vision that affects almost everyone. You’re not alone!