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Eye Health Center

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
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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 vision.com, 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:

Stagger Purchases: Even if your eyes have changed, you don't necessarily need to buy new glasses. "Ask your doctor how the new prescription compares to what you're using," says Lynn Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., professor of ophthalmology at UCLA. "Then together you can decide if you need to upgrade or can wait. Maybe you'll buy new sunglasses this year and reading glasses next."

Shop Online: If you're willing to give up the expert fitting that comes from a shop, Internet sites (search for "online glasses") offer amazingly low prices and stylish choices. For a vintage look, GH Fashion Director Jasmine Chang recommends warbyparker.com; styles cost about $100 (for frames and lenses). To order online, you'll need to send in a recent prescription that includes pupillary distance.

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