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5 Signs You Might Need Reading Glasses

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The display on your phone not as sharp as it used to be? You may be experiencing presbyopia, a condition where your eyes gradually lose the ability to see up close as well as they used to. There’s no way to stop it from happening; it’s a normal part of aging. But you’re not alone: Beginning in their 40s, many people will have problems reading at near distances, according to the American Optometric Association. In fact, about 112 million Americans have presbyopia.

Luckily, it’s easy to treat with glasses or contacts. These days, reading glasses are available in cool frames, just like regular glasses, and can even be combined into multifocal lenses with your current prescription if you have one. If you’ve been experiencing these common symptoms, your eye doctor can confirm it’s presbyopia at an exam.

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The most obvious sign you could use a pair of spectacles just for close work is blurred vision when reading books or screens.

You hold your books at arm’s length.

Having to hold your reading material farther (not closer) from your face is one telltale sign. The same goes for just about anything with small print, including restaurant menus or recipes on your tablet. You may think, “But I don’t mind having to push my computer away to see recipe ingredients. Why get glasses?” Here’s the problem: While those far-away words may now be in focus, they can become too small to be identified.

You get headaches from close work.

You may also notice that your eyes feel tired or strained when you’re doing close-up activities for an extended amount of time, like reading reports at work or decorating a giant batch of cookies with royal icing.

You take off your glasses to read.

If you already wear glasses or contacts to correct your distance vision, you may notice yourself taking them off more frequently to help you focus on close work.

You need to crank up the brightness.

While you’re measuring and chopping up ingredients for a stew, you turn on an extra overhead light to see what you’re doing. When you’re reading your phone in bed at night, your partner complains that the light from your screen is too bright. Needing some extra illumination is normal; people in their 60s need three times more light to read comfortably than those in their 20s, according to the National Institutes of Health. But if you find yourself needing more and more light in already well-lit rooms—especially when performing close-up tasks—schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist.

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