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That computer screen somehow always manages to be just in the wrong spot – too close to make out the small fonts with regular corrective lenses or your own natural eyesight, and too far for your reading glasses to bring into focus. No problem, you think, I’ll just grab another set of readers to swap between up-close paperwork and the monitor’s middle distance. Of course, when that spreadsheet calls for comparison, quick switches between spectacles become necessary — and just where did I put those darn things anyway?
The reason we increasingly reach for “cheaters” as we age is a condition called presbyopia, which causes the eyes to gradually lose ability to focus on nearby objects. As we age, the eye’s lens stiffens. That lack of flexibility means that it can no longer be as effectively adjusted by the circular muscle around it so its focusing power is compromised.
That means that around the time you hit 40, restaurant menus and power bills have to be held at arm’s length to be seen and reading glasses fast become a necessity.
Problems arise, however, when it takes a library of different-power reading glasses to accommodate the many spots in up-close and middle distance where eyes might need a helping hand.
In those cases, many people reach for progressive lenses, a high-tech version of bifocals that contain multiple focal points for use at close, medium and long distance. Unlike bifocals of old, these new lenses don’t have hard lines dividing the focal points to help create a gradual focus effect to make viewing things in “in between” distances easier.
The bottom line is that as we get older, it’s nearly inevitable that we’ll eventually reach for “cheaters,” but when that crutch is no longer enough, there are prescription options that can solve a number of vision problems and annoyances in one fell swoop. But unless you visit an eye care professional for annual checkups — or more frequently if an issue suddenly arises — these solutions will remain elusive, just like those darn reading glasses.