The Fine Print: Why Your Vision Gets Fuzzy During Middle Age
How is it that, when you turn 40-whatever, birthday cards (fittingly), menus and magazines suddenly become illegible unless you hold them at arm’s length? Welcome to middle age, when all print becomes a little too little.
Most people notice their ability to see up close slipping during their early to mid-40s, according to Mayo Clinic. Presbyopia occurs when the lens of the eye, which loses pliability over time, stiffens to the point of no longer flexing into position to focus on nearby objects. Far-sighted folks can see changes as early as their late 30s. Others sneak by unscathed into their early 50s. Everyone — gender, race and overall health have zero effect — eventually experiences the blur, according to Mayo.
Women can need correction earlier than men. The reason? Arm length. Recent research suggests that because presbyopic eyes focus more easily at a distance, taller people (i.e., men), who typically have longer arms, may not need lenses as strong as shorter folks. Go figure.
Sorry, There’s No Prevention
Unfortunately, there aren’t any eye exercises or supplements that postpone or minimize presbyopia. For some, adding bifocals to an existing lens prescription is enough. Others find that special contact lenses correct both near and distance issues. If presbyopia is your only vision problem, reading glasses (fondly known as “readers” or “cheaters”) are a simple fix.
Off-the-rack readers – available at drugstores, grocery stores, even discount and dollar stores – make the transition easy. At $10 to $20 a pop, you can experiment with “fashion” and color, and buy extra pairs to stash in different rooms, your purse and office, or even customize the correction per task (think reading a book versus surfing the Web).
Ready-made readers, however, are one-size-fits-all. If you have a slightly different prescription in each eye or a slight astigmatism, over-the-counter readers could give you headaches or eyestrain. If this happens, see your eye doctor for a custom prescription.
A Cheat(er) Sheet
Readers/cheaters come in a range of strengths, with the lowest labeled +1.00 and increasing in increments of +0.25 to a maximum of +2.5 to +3.5, depending on limits set by your state. Anyone who needs more power than the state allows belongs in prescription glasses.
Stores display readers next to a test card with rows of words, ranging from small to large type, corresponding to prescription strengths. Use the card to determine your starting point. Then try on glasses above and below that strength until you find the right correction.
Afraid of Looking Like a Granny?
Don’t fret. Companies such as Eyebobs, Warby Parker and even Zappos offer chic, though more expensive, cheaters that stylishly transcend those sold in three-packs or off the racks.
Just remember that readers are no substitute for regular visits to your eye doctor. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people older than 40 with no vision problems have their eyes examined every two to four years. For people 65 and older, it’s checkups every one to two years.
You know by now that you deserve better. Wine, that is. Stop telling yourself that it tastes the same no matter the price, and say yes to the occasional splurge on a bottle that's only slightly more expensive — but can instantly make you feel like a million bucks.
If we don't keep moving as we age, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/26/stretch-safely-for-flexibility-_n_1909997.html">our joints can lose their flexibility</a>, leaving us prone to injury. So say yes to stretching regularly to increase your range of motion!
You've spent your whole life thinking about your next move, so start saying yes to a little unplanned adventure from time to time. Head somewhere you've never been before this weekend — and <em>don't</em> bring an itinerary.
A Super-Comfortable Mattress
More than ever, you deserve a good night's sleep — and not just because good sleep plays an important role in keeping you healthy. So say yes to a mattress that helps make that happen, and maybe some extra-luxurious bedding while you're at it. The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/10/pick-best-mattress_n_1872048.html">kind of mattress that's best for you</a> depends on your preferred sleep position, but remember: your body changes as you age, and your mattress needs might too.
"I believe that you're never too old to live your dreams or pursue something that will make a difference," says Danielle Coulanges, who quit her job in finance to become a junior high school teacher at age 55. But reinvention doesn't have to be drastic — start by focusing on <em>one</em> thing you'd really like to improve about yourself (get to bed by 11 p.m. every night, or start volunteering for just 2 hours every week) and go from there. Check out Live Better America's <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/do-better-board?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549">Do Better Board</a> for more daily inspiration.
Opportunities To Learn Something New
It's never too late to fall in love with a new hobby or perfect a new skill, and there's nothing like the gratifying feeling of having accomplished just that. Plus, studies show that <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/memory-loss/HA00001">keeping your brain active can help prevent memory loss</a>. So say yes to learning and experimenting whenever you can!
You may have spent many years <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allison-tate/mom-pictures-with-kids_b_1926073.html">behind the camera and out of the frame while the kids were growing up</a>, but start saying yes right now to actually being <em>in</em> the picture. The people who love you don't care about the laughlines or that extra five or ten pounds — they just want a picture with you in it, and you should, too.
Accepting Help When It's Offered
By now, you've proven your independence, but it's okay to say yes to a little help once in a while. So when your daughter's boyfriend wants to help you move that new couch up the stairs, let him! And when your best friend offers to lend you her car for the day because yours is in the shop, take her up on it — just make sure to return the favor the next time she's in a bind.
Getting Rid Of Your Old Cosmetics/Electronics/Kids Toys/etc.
If it no longer works, or you have a new version that works better, get rid of it. If you haven't used it in the past year, toss it. If you had totally forgotten that you even owned it... you get the idea. De-cluttering can help you feel more in control of your life, which in turn <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gretchen-rubin/clutter-mentality-happiness-project_b_1987509.html">can help you feel happier</a>.
Taking Back Your Social Life
You're about to have a lot more time on your hands when the kids move out and develop busy, important lives of their own. Savor it by devoting your newfound free time to the friends that are most important to you.
"Can I See Your ID, Please?"
Someone is unsure of whether or not you're under the age of 21? This person deserves a tip and possibly a kiss on the cheek, not an eye roll.