The Eyes Have It

By Sharon Naylor

November 4, 2011 5 min read

Being unable to read small print or find a button on the remote can be a real headache, and vision problems can lead to headaches. But a number of simple remedies can help you avoid the hassle of eyesight issues.

According to Livestrong.com, about 20 percent of Americans age 65 or older have problems with their eyes -- problems that often worsen with age. Of course, the American Association of Optometrists recommends that you get your eyes checked at least every two years if you are younger than 70 and annually thereafter, and if you have diabetes or other eye illnesses, you may need to be checked more often.

For the average senior, reduced vision is just a part of aging and poses a minor annoyance when a newspaper or book needs to be held farther and farther from the face in order to read. That can lead to eye, arm and neck strain during a long reading session. And if you're among the millions of seniors reading books on e-readers, you may be experiencing the kind of eye strain that strikes computer users of all ages.

Luckily for your vision, there are a number of smart products on the market that are designed to help you see better and longer, allowing you to spend more time doing the activities you enjoy.

--Get glasses or lenses. First, see your optometrist to make sure your eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions are perfect for your vision as it is right now. If it's been a while since your last checkup, you might need a different prescription to clarify your vision.

--Get rid of glare. If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, or if you use an e-reader even a moderate amount of the time, affix an inexpensive anti-glare screen or film onto each of your electronic gadgets. These state-of-the-art anti-glare layers reduce eyestrain almost immediately, and many are created from materials that resist fingerprints and smudges, also protecting your clear vision.

--Wear computer glasses. Ask your optometrist to fit you for special glasses designed just for use while working on your computer, playing games or, again, using an e-reader. These glasses move with you as you switch from computer to e-reader to cellphone, helping you see better throughout your busy day.

--Get a large-button remote control. Every button is larger -- and every number and command icon oversized -- to allow you to see what you need to push as you're watching television, recording movies and playing DVDs. You'll find these new universal remotes at electronics stores.

--Get a large-button phone. Your at-home phone can make dialing easier when you swap your small-button phone for an enlarged-button phone.

--Read large-print books. Buy or borrow books printed in oversize fonts, which sometimes double the size of words. With a simple click on your e-reader or computer, you can view books, magazines and websites in larger font as well. "I didn't even know I could do that," says grandmother Denise Helmsley. "But my son saw me reading a book on my Kindle one day and showed me how to triple the size of the print. I'm now enjoying reading so much more!"

--Get large-print playing cards. If you enjoy a good game of bridge or poker, you can now play with cards that have 1-inch numbers and less distracting print designs on the faces. Visit Wellhaven.com, Amazon.com and BN.com to order large-print playing cards and large-print crossword puzzle books and other games.

--Carry a magnifying glass. They're great for reading restaurant menus and other materials you encounter while you're out and about. You can choose a traditional, hand-held, round magnifying glass or a credit card-sized rectangular magnifier with an LED bulb to make reading even easier.

--Improve your lighting. One great way to reduce eye strain and help you see and read better is to allow more natural light into your environment. Open curtains or pull the cord to raise blinds. Place a brighter light next to your chair for evening reading. And if you're used to watching TV in the dark, try leaving a light on in the room to lessen the burden on your eyes.

--Rest your eyes. Don't read or work on the computer for too long without taking a break, say most optometrists. Look away from the book or screen every now and then, blink your eyes and look at items far away. And if you do get eye strain, doctors say that a hot or cold eye compress helps relax your eye muscles enough to provide relief.

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