When you have visual challenges, normal tasks you love can become more difficult. Reading can be particularly challenging due to changes in your eyesight as you age. Luckily, a variety of devices and strategies can make reading a little easier when you have visual challenges. These strategies help you continue to enjoy the benefits of reading, including improved memory retention and stress reduction.
Like the rest of your body, your eyes also change as you age. This can cause issues like dryness or decreased vision. Common eye problems as you age that could affect reading include:
Many of these eye conditions can cause blurry vision or make it more difficult to see words on a page.
Seeing an ophthalmologist regularly can help address some conditions that affect your ability to read well. For instance, you can have surgery for cataracts or to correct drooping eyelids, which can improve your vision. If dry eyes cause discomfort and make it difficult to read for long periods, you can get gel that you apply at night to help.
Your eye doctor can also diagnose conditions early when they're easier to treat. For example, eye drops can help control glaucoma if diagnosed early, preventing the damage and blindness that can eventually happen with the condition.
Your doctor might also have suggestions for how to make reading easier with your vision conditions. They might recommend specific tools or give advice to help you continue enjoying reading.
Many libraries offer a limited selection of large-font books you can borrow for free. If you buy books, see if there's a large-font version available. Some books naturally have a larger font than others, even if they're not considered large-print versions. Before checking out a book, skim the print to see if it's large enough for you to read easily.
If you've never tried an eReader device, test one out to see how well it works for you. Many models have tools that make reading easier with visual challenges. You can often control the contrast of the words — greater contrast makes the words easier to see.
eReaders often let you magnify or zoom in on the text to make it appear larger and easier to read. Large-print books are often thick and heavy, so this option lets you have larger print with a lighter, thinner way to do so. Some models also have a reading feature, so you can hear the text being read to you instead of reading it yourself. Think of this feature as an alternative to a true audiobook.
Poor lighting can make vision issues even worse when you're trying to read. Increasing the illumination in areas where you read could improve how well you see the text. Add ambient lighting to make the room brighter in general. Task lighting, such as a book light or lamp directed toward your pages, gives you focused light to improve how well you can see the text.
You might also choose to head outdoors to read. LifeStream at Youngtown has beautifully landscaped grounds where you can find a quiet spot to enjoy your book with the extra illumination of natural sunlight. This can be especially enjoyable during the cooler winter months in Youngtown.
You can choose from a variety of magnifying tools that make it easier to read small font. Handheld or stand magnifiers are common and sometimes include a light to help make the text clear. If you read a lot, you might prefer spectacle-mounted magnifiers. You can wear them like glasses or as a headband so they sit in front of your eyes hands-free.
Video magnification is a different type of technology that also enlarges the text. This system typically uses a camera to capture the text, which then transmits the image to a screen, such as a computer monitor or TV. This allows you to see the image on a much larger surface, which can be beneficial if a handheld magnifier isn't enough to help you.
If you're still having difficulty reading from pages of a book, consider a switch to audiobooks. You can still absorb all the content you want, from entertaining to educational, by listening to the book. Audiobooks are popular for all ages, especially among busy people who multitask by listening to books on tape while exercising, commuting or doing other activities. The Youngtown Public Library offers a selection of audiobooks you can borrow for free.
Finding a reading partner can help you continue your enjoyment of reading. You might find a neighbor who enjoys reading as much as you. That person can read the book to you, and you can share conversations about it, similar to a mini book club. If you have teenage grandchildren nearby, pick up a young adult book they can read to you. This not only lets you continue reading, but it also helps you socialize and strengthen your relationships with other people.