Q: I am 46-years-old and I’ve noticed that small print is blurry when I try to read it close up. I know presbyopia is part of the aging process, but are there any exercises I can do to ward it off? I read about an eye training program, but I’m not sure if this is a proven method.

A: Presbyopia is the most common condition that develops around the globe after the age of 40. The focusing or accommodative mechanism of the eye begins to lose its flexibility (Individuals who are myopia – nearsighted - may be able to continue to read without glasses). An eye examination will determine the appropriate reading prescription for each eye. This is important because most people have a different prescription as well as different astigmatism in each eye.

There have been many "systems" that profess the benefits of eye training to ward off prescription glasses. There are however, no multi-center research studies published in peer review journals that substantiate the claims of training. And don't think about getting glasses off the rack in the drug store without an eye examination. Read about Artie Poggi in the Lighthouse Voices of Hope section and how he lost his useable vision without appropriate care. You only get one pair of eyes in life. A good eye examination, especially when someone in the family has a history of an eye disease, may prevent you from going blind. -- Dr. Bruce Rosenthal, Chief of Low Vision Programs at Lighthouse International

Q: My son has Stargardt's Disease and wears sunglasses continuously, even on cloudy days. Is this okay? And if so, what type of sunglass lenses are the most beneficial?

A: I would advise you to take your son to a doctor specializing in "low vision.” Many people with Stargardt's Disease are light sensitive (photophobic). They may need prescription lenses that incorporate a special filter or tint to cut out the annoying light rays as well as enhance the contrast. Selection of a filter or tint for each person is individualized. Again, see a low vision doctor who would have the appropriate lenses to reduce the glare and light sensitivity. -- Dr. Bruce Rosenthal, Chief of Low Vision Programs at Lighthouse International

Q: I have glaucoma and I don’t have any health insurance. Lately, my eyes are tearing constantly and are extremely red. I bought over the counter drops (refresh) to help, but what else can I do?

A: Glaucoma which has been diagnosed and not treated will eventually lead to blindness. Refresh will not prevent the condition from progressing. Only prescription glaucoma drugs or surgery will control the progressive of vision loss. It is highly advisable to find a center that provides care for individuals without insurance. Call the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Optometric Association for an eye doctor, hospital, or clinic that will provide free eye care in your state. Again, vision loss will be irreversibly without treatment. -- Dr. Bruce Rosenthal, Chief of Low Vision Programs at Lighthouse International



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