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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: You recently switched from off-the-shelf reading glasses to prescription. They work fine most of the time, but not with your iPad.

The Fix: Push your glasses up. People who use store-bought readers tend to wear them low on their noses, explains Shirley Earley, president of the Opticians Association of America. But "real" glasses, especially progressives, are usually fitted higher on the face, so they may take getting used to. If you still have trouble, ask your optician for a refitting; bring your iPad, so she can see where you hold it.

The Problem: When you drive at night, you get glare and weird halos.

The Fix: Coated lenses. In a recent survey of drivers who wore glasses or contacts, 48% said that glare or light sensitivity got to them at night, with 61% bothered by oncoming headlights and 28% troubled by halos. Digital progressive lenses combined with an antireflective coating improve night vision, making it sharper and cutting glare. You can also choose antireflective coating alone. This ultrathin film reduces light reflection from the surface of your lenses, cutting glare and allowing the lenses to transmit more light. Beyond helping with driving, an antireflective coating improves your vision when you're reading with a lamp or on an e-reader or computer.

For contact lens users, there are aspheric lenses, which have a special lens curvature (sometimes called "premium lenses," they also carry a higher price tag). In one study at the University of Iowa National Advanced Driving Simulator, drivers wearing aspheric lenses had significantly improved ability to see oncoming cars compared with a group who wore the conventional variety. Problems with night vision, such as halos around lights, aren't just a driving challenge. They could indicate early cataracts or glaucoma, so it's important to see an eye doctor if you have these issues.

The Problem: You've tried contacts, but they didn't work because of your astigmatism.

The Fix: One of the new toric lenses. Astigmatism, which is blurry vision caused by an abnormally curved cornea, can now be corrected with toric contacts, which have two curvatures — one to correct for nearsightedness or farsightedness (depending on your problem) and one for the astigmatism, explains Sindt. Until recently, there were only a limited number of toric lenses, but today many brands are available, including some made with new, more comfortable materials such as silicone hydrogel. If you decide to go with toric contacts, make sure you put aside enough funds in next year's FSA: They may run between $500 and $700 a year, reports all about, a consumer website, compared with about $220 to $260 a year for regular contacts replaced at average (not daily-use) rates.

$ave on Eyewear

As you move through your 40s and 50s, rapidly changing prescriptions and multiple pairs of specs can have you seeing red. To keep costs down:

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