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Eye-care advances give aging a whole new look

SHARE Eye-care advances give aging a whole new look

Thanks to advancements in medical research and technology, people are enjoying better vision later in life than previous generations. Today's eye care options offer medically proven solutions for making eyes younger in function and appearance.

Most important, these breakthroughs are also helping to heal computer-related vision problems and to prevent age-related eye damage and diseases. Indeed, vision protection is a fast-expanding zone of health care, as the aging baby boomer population pursues solutions for optimal health and longevity.- According to the Alliance for Aging Research, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit foundation that supports research into anti-aging remedies, a diet high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin appears to protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD begins to develop between ages 40 and 50 and is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 65 in the United States.

AMD statistics are expected to rise appreciably in the next five to 10 years, due to the growing number of people over 50 in the U.S. population. High amounts of lutein (LOO-teen) and zeaxanthin (zee-ah-ZAN-thin) are found in dark green leafy vegetables.

Over several decades, AMD gradually and painlessly affects the macula, the small central part of the retina that allows you to see precise details. While AMD's cause remains mysterious, a 1994 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that research subjects who consumed vegetables such as collard greens and spinach were less likely to have it. According to Johanna Seddon, M.D., lead author of the study, "Our results also indicated that antioxidant vitamins such as A, C and E may also help retard AMD."

- With age, fatty deposits lighten the iris color, making eyes look older and paler. According to optometrist Dr. Mitchell Cassel of New York City, "Custom-tinted contact lenses can make your eyes look much younger. My clients include many busi-ness-people and aging baby boomers," he says. "They use custom tints to re-create their youthful eye color, which takes years off their appearance." Besides being a cosmetic innovation, custom-tinted lenses are prosthetic solutions for eyes disfigured by diseases or accidents. "People with damaged-looking eyes can now wear these and feel confident about their looks," says Cassel. "These lenses are a superior alternative to wearing an eye patch."

Another advancement in contact lens technology is contacts that block harmful ultraviolet light rays. These extended-wear contacts are coated with a thin film that absorbs UV chemicals.

- The wired age has redefined how civilization works and plays, and working long hours at glowing monitors can take a heavy toll on the eyes. The most common computer-related vision problems include dry eyes, eyestrain and headaches. The good news is that computer glasses can help.

They are recommended for people who wear prescription lenses - especially bifocal wearers, who often find it difficult to focus on the monitor, even for short periods. Unlike reading glasses, which are designed for looking down, computer glasses are made for focusing straight ahead at a specific computer viewing distance and are worn only at the work station.

According to Brisco, "Computer glasses work because they help decrease tension in the eyes."