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article imageWomen need bifocals sooner than men & arm length may be to blame

By Danielle Smiley     Aug 21, 2012 in Health
Studies show that presbyopia, the inability to see at a close distance that occurs with age, is more common in women. While men and women need bifocals as they age, the need is more common among women and tends to hit them at younger ages than men.
In Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science (IOVS), researchers published a study that suggests the problem is not with women’s ability to focus, but rather with their arm length. Arm length impacts preferred reading distance, and reading at too close a distance increases eye strain. The symptoms of presbyopia increase with an increase in eye strain.
In the study, the authors examined nine previous studies that compared the occurrence of presbyopia between both genders. They created their own groups to determine which variables or differences could contribute to this disparity. What they found was interesting.
Like the researchers in the studies before them, the IOVS researchers found that women bought bifocals, bifocal contact lenses and reading glasses at earlier ages than men. They found that prescriptions for reading glasses tend to be stronger for female patients. In light of this, they took a closer look at the data to determine if an underlying factor could point to the reason for the disparity.
Men and women appeared to have the same focusing ability when looking at nearby objects. The women in the study, however, were generally shorter than the men, with proportionally shorter arm lengths, and thus held objects closer to their faces when reading. While the study is by no means conclusive, the researchers theorized that closer reading distance and the eye strain they cause could be the reason women are diagnosed as presbyopic earlier.
Avoiding Eye Strain Could Prevent Presbyopia
Women who find themselves concerned about these studies might want to take precautions to avoid eye strain and delay the need for bifocal glasses as long as possible. Eye strain occurs when an individual over exerts the eyes for an extended period. Eye strain from computer usage is as common as eye fatigue caused by reading and performing tasks by hand.
Eye strain typically causes a range of symptoms:
1) Eye or temple pain
2) Light sensitivity
3) Fatigue
4) Headaches
5) Blurred or double vision
6) Dryness or redness of the eye
Preventing eyestrain will not only keep the eyes healthy longer, but it will also help the individual keep up with work tasks—and it is fairly simple to do.
Preventing Eye Strain
Eye strain typically occurs when the eyes must do extra work to read text. Improper lighting or text that is too small can cause it. Increasing the font size on a computer or digital reader or adding more light to the work environment offer simple solutions to the problem.
The light from a computer monitor will tire the eyes with extended use. If possible, do some reading offline by printing documents and reading them on hard copy. Cut down on paper waste by printing on both sides of the paper.
Repositioning computer monitors can also help with eye strain. Position them below eye level to help with tear production so the eyes do not have to open completely to see the screen. Also, take frequent breaks, such as a 20-second break every 20 minutes, to rest the eyes.
Overall Eye Health Tips
Of course, preventing eye strain does no good if the eyes are damaged by UV radiation from the sun or a bacterial infection caused by poor hygiene. These tips will keep the eyes as healthy as possible:
1) Wearing sunglasses helps ward off UV rays from the sun, which can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, and retina damage.
2) Staying hydrated ensures the eyes can make enough tears to wash out dust and debris.
3) Washing the eyes with cold water a few times a day lubricates and removes foreign particles.
4) Getting sufficient sleep prevents around 75 percent of eye problems.
5) Consuming adequate amounts of vitamin A, found in carrots, sweet potatoes, celery, papaya and oranges, promotes eye health.
6) Removing eye makeup properly will keep debris out of the eyes.
7) Keeping up with regular eye exams will help discover problems and treat them before they cause permanent damage.
In addition, eye exercises can reduce eye strain discomfort and improve the overall strength of the eyes. This video shows three specific eye exercises that are simple to do at home.
Good eye care habits can ward off eye problems. Everyone men and women—will experience vision changes as they age, so keeping the eyes healthy will prolong healthy eyes and minimize the effects of eye problems. Healthy eyes see better longer, which is a goal worth pursuing.
More about eye care, Eyesight, Menopause, Women's health
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