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You Can See Clearly Now

And if you can't, new higher-tech glasses, contacts, or easy surgery will bring even the numbers on your cell phone into focus


The Problem: Even though you're wearing your glasses, you can't make out the computer display clearly.

The Fix: Higher-tech lenses. Up to 90% of people who work on computers all day suffer from eyestrain, blurriness, and other symptoms of "computer vision syndrome," reports the American Optometric Association.

If you're using bifocals or progressive lenses, you may also suffer muscle strain as you crane your neck to use the narrow "middle band" within your prescription. You can have multifocals made so more space is allotted to computer distance. Also, many companies have introduced digitally produced progressive lenses (depending on the manufacturer, they may be described as "free-form," "digitized," "digitally surfaced," or "HD"), which can provide a wider field of vision than the 80% that older progressive models do. In a study at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry, 95 people spent one week using progressive lenses and one week using the new free-form kind; the majority reported that the free-form ones gave them a significantly wider field of undistorted vision. Another option: a pair of glasses just for the computer.

The Problem: You love your prescription sunglasses for driving, but you can't tell if the fuel gauge is on "E" or "F."

The Fix: Progressive sunglasses. "People don't automatically think they'll need readers when they're driving," says Dr. Williams. "But you have to look at the speedometer and your navigation system." And when you get your new shades, ask for lenses that block out 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB radiation and screen out at least 75% of visible light — these filters help prevent premature aging of eyes, which can lead to cataracts.

The Problem: You've worn contacts forever, but suddenly they're painful and scratchy.

The Fix: Moisturizers for your eyes. Dry eye, which is linked to hormonal changes like menopause, affects 22% of women, one large study found. Often, the problem is so subtle, lens wearers may just describe their eyes as gritty or tender, explains Christine W. Sindt, O.D., a contact lens expert at University of Iowa Hospital. There's a wide range of artificial tears, both OTC and prescription, and there are easily inserted punctal plugs doctors can use (like a bathtub stopper) to block tear ducts from draining.

Lifestyle changes can also help, says Dr. Williams. She suggests using a humidifier at home and setting car heaters to "feet only" mode. Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, too: A study of more than 32,000 women at Brigham and Women's Hospital found that those who ate more tuna were less likely to have dry eyes than those who ate less or none. Or you can take omega-3 supplements (Dr. Williams recommends 1,000 mg twice a day). Research is still preliminary, but in a recent French study, patients with mild to moderate dry-eye syndrome seemed to show improvement when they took omega-3 supplements for three months (the participants' regimen also included vitamins and zinc, as well as omega-6).

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