Harvard Women's Health Watch

Women need reading glasses for different reasons than men

As we get older, many of us will inevitably have to grab our reading glasses to focus on our favorite books—and evidence shows we'll have to reach for them sooner than men will. Yet a study published this May in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science finds that the reason women need reading glasses sooner than men could be related to factors other than vision changes. Researchers analyzed the results of nine different studies comparing presbyopia—the loss of near vision—in men and women. The studies offered evidence that women actually have just as much focusing power as men, if not more. The reasons they need reading glasses at an earlier age than men may have more to do with their preferred reading distance or arm length than with their vision. The authors say their study highlights the need for doctors to carefully tailor vision correction for their female patients.

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