Maybe if I bring the label right into the direct sunlight, and squint my eyes just so, stretch out my arms as long as I can…and where did I put those reading glasses?
“Nic!” As I called my teenage son to once again come to my rescue to read the simple directions on a package, I cursed my presbyopia. If you can read this article without trouble, you might not know what that is. Presbyopia is, simply put “the condition that makes one need reading glasses.”, says Dr. Michael Kaplan. “It’s the normal aging change in the eye that results in the inability to focus on objects close up.” Presbyopia normally affects people in their early to mid-forties, and affects 1.7 billion people worldwide.
But how can you tell if you have presbyopia? “The first symptoms are eyestrain, difficulty seeing in dim light and problems focusing on small objects and/or fine print,” says Dr. Kaplan. “Some patients joke that their arms just aren’t long enough anymore.” Sounds familiar.
Having to rely on the kindness of my teenage son or take an extra yoga class to lengthen my arms by a few inches didn’t seem like the most effective plan, so I visited Dr. Kaplan and was fit with some multifocal contact lens, which solved most of these issues. But that’s not the only thing you can do to help overcome poor eye health.
At a recent event in Toronto, Chef Brad Long, host of Food Network Canada’s Restaurant Makeover, executive chef of Café Belong, and the father of five children, cooked a nutritious, delicious, eye-healthy meal for guests while he addressed his own experience with presbyopia. This condition affects many people, and while it can be an inconvenience for anyone who suffers, as a parent of four children myself, I agree with Chef Long that there are extra challenges when you’re dealing with vision issues. The small print on children’s medicines, signing safety waivers that you can’t quite read, or even just trying to deal with a small child, while wearing reading glasses and having them constantly pulled off by little fingers.
I’m certainly not a gourmet chef like Brad Long, but I also need to be able to operate efficiently in the kitchen; switching between reading a recipe online and chopping finer ingredients on the counter. So what makes a meal eye-healthy? Chef Long talked about the benefits of butter, which is the most easily absorbable form of Vitamin A, and is a great source of Vitamins E and K. “We can take measures to improve our overall health – such as proper hydration, exercise, eating a well-balanced diet, and getting the right amount of rest”, advises Dr. Kaplan.
I’ve worn contact lenses for many years, but like many of my friends, lately had to add reading glasses when struggling with small print. Or you might have found me taking a picture of a menu with my phone, and then enlarging the picture. Both are inconvenient and honestly a little embarrassing. According to a recent Leger research study, almost half of Canadian adults say wearing reading glasses not only make someone look older, they also make them feel older. This was certainly my experience.
I’ve been wearing daily multifocal contact lenses for a few weeks now. I get up at about 5:30 every day, and go for a morning run. It’s a long day until I get to turn in at night, and I’m often writing and editing pieces for hours at a time, filming a video or speaking to a group. I needed contact lenses that would address my presbyopia but also be comfortable enough to wear for 14-18 hour days, regularly.
Like many parents, I’m constantly looking down at my phone or computer, and up again to see what my kids are doing, whether it’s playing hockey or sitting beside them as they first start driving. Flexibility is key. I took Dr. Kaplan’s recommendation to try Alcon Dailies Total1 multifocal contact lenses to deal with this issue. They help me through a long day and the best part is I don’t have to subject myself to the derision of my children as they read labels out loud to me.
See Chef Brad Long’s recipe for eye-healthy carrot and apple soup here.