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Aging Eyes Find a New Way to Read

Medically reviewed in September 2020

Finding it harder to read fine print as you get older? Don’t worry—you’re probably not missing anything. A new study shows that seniors adapt to their declining vision by reading in a different way.

In a recent study, published in the journal Psychology and Aging, researchers measured eye movements in adults as they read digitally manipulated lines of text. The text was displayed in different ways, with some of the lettering either blurred or sharply defined. (Take a look at 5 ways to prevent blurred vision.)

The researchers found that younger adults (between 18 and 30) had an easier time reading visually detailed text. On the other hand, seniors 65 and up actually found it easier to read the blurred text. And their reading comprehension was just as accurate as the younger readers’.

The researchers explain that older adults employ a different reading strategy than younger adults, relying more on general cues—like word shapes—as they figure out the meaning and identity of words. The finding may help eye doctors identify new ways to help seniors who have trouble with reading, say the authors. (Learn more about different kinds of eye specialists.)

Remember, your eye health is an important part of your well-being. Good eyesight gives you a window to the world and helps you live life to its fullest. Try these tips to keep your peepers sharp as you age:

  • Eat more salad. Adding more mixed greens to your diet is a great way to get antioxidants that ward off the eye disease macular degeneration.
  • Deflect dry eyes. Keep your eyes hydrated with these preventive tips.
  • Curb computer eyestrain. Find out how to protect your eyes while working on the computer.
  • Get educated and be proactive. Boost your eye health by keeping a close watch on vision changes, learning more about your eye issues and sticking to healthy habits to minimize age-related vision loss.

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