The safer way to help your aging peepers see better up close

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As you age, your eyes start to lose the ability they once had to focus up close.

So, you may start to find yourself holding a book out in front of you… or straining to read the ingredients on your vitamin bottle at arm’s length.

It’s an extremely common problem called presbyopia, and it occurs because of the loss of elasticity in the lens of your eye. That’s why so many of us need to wear reading glasses, bifocals or progressive lenses as we get older.

I remember sitting around the kitchen table on game night as a kid and watching as my dad, aunts and uncles passed around a set of reading glasses to read the questions on trivia cards. I thought it was funny then, but not so much when I started to experience the same difficulties myself.

But there was no way I was going to be one of those ladies wearing bifocals, so I talked to my eye doctor about other options. He suggested contacts. At first, I thought it sounded like a great idea, until I found that it may not be so safe…

Does a different lens in each eye really work?

Another common correction for presbyopia is known as monovision. And about 10 million people in the United States currently use this method to correct their age-related far-sightedness.

Basically, you’re given a different lens for each eye. One focuses on vision up close, while the other helps you focus for distance. To adjust for the blur differences caused by wearing different lenses, your brain suppresses the blurrier image and chooses to process only the sharper image.

But according to a new study by a team from the University of Pennsylvania and the Institute of Optics in Madrid, Spain, the solution comes with a level of danger…

Playing dangerous tricks on your eyes

They discovered that monovision can cause dramatic misperceptions of the distance and 3D direction of moving objects. Even worse, the farther away the objects are and the faster they move, the larger the misperceptions become.

The researchers say that the reason the misperceptions occur is that monovision causes a processing delay for moving images, and what’s called a “neural binocular disparity.” This is when the actual location of the image on the back of the eye doesn’t match where the visual system estimates it to be.

“Imagine you’re riding in a car, pulling up to an intersection,” said Penn neuroscientist, Johannes Burge. “A cyclist in cross-traffic is going by at 15 miles per hour. If you calculate it out, the misperception of depth will be about nine feet. That’s a big deal — that’s the width of a traffic lane.”

This could make choosing monovision to correct your presbyopia a danger to you and everyone around you.

Better presbyopia protection

So, if you’re ready to choose a fix for your presbyopia, you might want to skip monovision and instead stick with the more traditional solutions, like reading glasses. Even prescription bifocal lenses are not your mother’s bifocals anymore…

I got a pair and you can’t even tell that bottom half of the lens helps me see things better up close.

But to keep presbyopia form worsening, or to avoid the problem as long as you can, follow these tips to take better care of your peepers:

#1 — Rest your eyes

Rest is vital to your eyes, because that’s when they get a break. Shoot for eight hours of shut eye per night. And don’t forget to take breaks from screen time during the day. Blue light — found in all digital devices, like computers, smartphones and tablets, plus LED light bulbs and flat screen televisions, have shorter wavelengths and greater energy than other rays on the spectrum. It’s powerful enough to penetrate all the way to your retina!

#2 — Eat for eye health

Antioxidants like lutein, zeazanthin and beta-carotene help to protect your eyes from the damage caused by UV rays from sunlight and the blue light from screens. You can get more of these antioxidants in your diet by eating more leafy greens, yellow peppers, carrots and sweet potatoes.

#3 — Support with supplements

You can also get those antioxidants that support your eye health in supplement form.

With the right care, you have a much better chance of preserving youthful vision longer. And if presbyopia ever does come knocking, reading glasses are the safest choice to find relief.