Are there ways we can upgrade our hearing, sight, touch, taste, and smell, each of which tends to weaken as we age? Sheri Rose, CEO and executive director at The Thrive Center, tells us about some helpful apps and devices designed for improving your vision.
- IrisVision: These lenses can improve or delay the effects of macular degeneration by offering a variety of modes to meet the specific needs of each user.
- Aira: These glasses allow blind or sight-impaired individuals to connect to a live person who will “see” the surrounding environment for them. Looking through the camera on the glasses’ nosepiece, the call center agent can assist the wearer by performing tasks such as reading a menu or prescription pill bottle, advising when to stir a pot in the kitchen to keep it from boiling over, or offering detailed walking directions.
- Alexa Echo/Google Dot: Voice-assistance devices such as those provided by Amazon and Google can make all the difference for those who are visually-impaired. “We know some people worry about ‘big brother’ listening in to our homes,” Sheri says. “Imagine instead the huge difference they can make to someone who has lost their sight. Not only can these individuals ask for a weather or news report, or for music to play, they can be reminded about an appointment, to take their medication, or even find out what time it is.”
In addition to my conversation with Sheri, I was able to connect with Dr. Douglas Sigford, an opthamologist at Kentucky Lions Eye Center. He explained to me that, in the absence of disease, most people have good vision. “When it comes to eyes,” Dr. Sigford says, “prevention is key. It may seem simplistic but a few basic healthy choices will stave off vision problems.”
- Lead a healthy lifestyle. Eat right and exercise. Choose leafy, green vegetables to boost your Vitamin A. Systemic diseases like heart disease and diabetes can damage your eyes. Controlling blood pressure and stopping smoking will also make a difference.
- Protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses outside and safety goggles when the situation warrants them. “Don’t think to yourself ‘this will just take a moment; nothing bad will happen’. Things happen in a split second,” Dr. Sigford says.
- Use some fixes for common problems.
- Hydrate. Dry eyes are very common as we age and can cause vision problems. “Treat dry eyes aggressively with artificial tears or whatever your health professional recommends,” Dr. Sigford suggests.
- Keep the lights on. Dr. Sigford says, “It gets harder to adjust from dark to light and back to light again. Make sure you have enough light to see well.”
- Go big. There is an entire industry offering magnifiers and artificial lights from which to choose. Dr. Sigford suggests it may take some trial and error before you find the product that’s right for you.
P.S. Blue light filtering glasses may also help you.
BY MEGAN WILLMAN