As we age, some of us have discovered that our vision requirements are changing. Presbyopia, the normal age-related loss of near focusing ability, usually becomes a problem in our 40s. There are many ways to compensate for this with the most frequently seen and most common is the use of corrective lenses.

Solutions to help make reading computer displays easier

  • Single vision glasses work best when the computer display and other reading materials are at approximately the same distance. However, they have only one focal distance, limiting their flexibility.
  • Specially designed bifocals have the upper portion set for reading computer displays, while the lower portion is used for seeing up close. These glasses have a line that is visible to both the user and others and do not have any benefit for distance viewing.
  • Occupational trifocals use the top for distance viewing, a large intermediate area for computer display viewing, and have a bottom portion for other reading tasks. While this eliminates one limitation of the preceding glasses, these still have a visible line which may make some users self-conscious.
  • Occupational progressive lenses have a narrow channel at the top for “far intermediate” (approximately 15 feet) viewing distance, a large intermediate zone for computer display reading, and a large lower channel for other reading tasks. These three areas will accommodate an employee throughout the workday and eliminate the lines associated with multi-focal lenses. These glasses should be left at the desk.
  • Another option that many people choose is the use of traditional progressive lenses. These types of glasses introduce similar problems as traditional bifocals while using the computer. The reading channel is not wide enough and usually too low for computer viewing.

Enhancing and enlarging the display

In addition to corrective lenses, employees can make their computer display easier to read by enlarging the characters displayed on it. There are at least two methods for accomplishing this—changing the display resolution setting, and utilizing program specific magnifying tools.

The display or screen resolution tells the computer how many pixels should be displayed. To make text (or anything else being displayed) appear larger, simply tell the computer to display fewer pixels on the screen. In Windows, this feature can be found by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, and then, under Display, selecting the resolution you want. Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) have a “native resolution” where the image is the most clear, and it is usually their highest resolution. Adjusting the resolution downward on these displays will make the images larger, but not as clear.

Many applications, including the Microsoft Office Suite, will allow the user to select a magnification level.