In the Bedroom
4. Amsler eye chart. While an at-home test isn’t a substitute for an in-person comprehensive eye exam, you can use it to monitor how your eyes are doing. This chart is a grid with a black dot in the center. “The Amsler grid is an extremely helpful tool for patients with age-related macular degeneration,” notes Paras Shah, M.D., an ophthalmologist with NorthShore University HealthSystem in Glenview, Illinois. AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss, and it has no cure. But with proper treatment, its progress can be significantly slowed. Taking the at-home “test” can help you detect if there’s a change in one eye; you can alert your doctor accordingly. The chart is available at macular.org/amsler-chart.
5. Snellen eye chart. The Snellen chart is the good old eye chart that you know and love. The AAO website (aao.org) provides a chart for adults, plus how-to instructions. After printing it out, hang it on a wall with no windows. Sitting 10 feet away, with the grid at eye level, read the chart, covering one eye at a time. If the results are concerning, make an appointment with your eye doctor.
In the Bathroom
6. Artificial tears. Tear production naturally diminishes as you get older, Christiansen says. The problem is, tears are what keep the conjunctiva, the thin membrane on the surface of the eye, moist. “Once this membrane becomes dry, it loses its protective function and the result is inflammation,” he adds. Your eyes may become watery as your body tries to overcompensate for the dryness.
For most patients, over-the-counter artificial tears are all that’s needed, says Christiansen. Eye drops with preservatives tend to be much cheaper, but some people find they cause irritation. Preservative-free eye drops are often packaged in single-use vials. Try both to see which works best for you, he recommends.
In the Home Office
7. Eye-comfort lights. If harsh lighting conditions trigger headaches, try using softer-light or LED bulbs, which dim without flickering, strobing, causing glare or making a humming noise. Set up your computer so you’re about 25 inches away from the screen, and position it so you’re looking slightly down at it instead of straight ahead, suggests the AAO. Remember to give yourself occasional breaks from endless Zoom meetings by following the 20/20/20 rule: Turn your head every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
8. Good computer readers. Talk to your ophthalmologist about getting a pair of computer glasses that are specially designed to help reduce eyestrain. The doctor will calculate the distance you sit from your computer and give you a prescription for single-vision glasses designed for intermediate-distance viewing. “They’re easier to use for prolonged computer use, compared with bifocals or trifocal lenses,” Marioneaux says. There’s no need, however, to invest in special glasses designed to block blue light. According to Marioneaux, the evidence-based medicine does not currently support the use of blue blockers.