Technology makes it easier than ever to age gracefully

(ARA) – Thick-lensed glasses with bifocal lines, dentures that look too perfect to be real and, of course, bulky, heavy hearing aids that just can’t be overlooked – once, there was no mistaking the signs of age. Many people chose to endure the inconveniences of aging, rather than wear the overly obvious devices that might have eased vision and hearing losses.

Technology, however, is making aging less conspicuous. Advances in optometric science and great design have turned glasses into style statements worn by people of all ages. Products like bifocal contact lenses and virtually invisible hearing aids can make some of the natural bodily changes associated with growing older seem less obvious and reduce their impact on a person’s quality of life.

“Your eye doctor may start talking about bifocals when you enter your 40s, and by the time you are in your 50s, you may notice a difference in your hearing,” says Dr. Barry Freeman from hearing aid maker Starkey Laboratories, Inc. “Many people may put off doing something about hearing loss or vision loss because they don’t like the thought of wearing a visible hearing or thick glasses, and being thought of as ‘old’ when they still feel young in other ways.”

If you’ve begun to experience age-related vision or hearing loss, don’t wait to see your doctor, Freeman advises. “You have plenty of options for doing something about hearing loss and vision changes – options that can help relieve the problems these changes cause, without making you feel old in the process.”

Modern hearing aids

Hearing loss affects more than 31 million Americans, according to the Better Hearing Institute. People age 55 to 64 make up the largest group with hearing loss. In fact, 15 percent of people ages 45 to 64 have some level of hearing loss. If you’re old enough to need help with hearing, but still young enough – or young enough at heart – to dislike the idea of a traditional hearing aid, there is good news.

For people with mild to moderate hearing loss, modern hearing aids not only reduce background noise, cut static, make it easier to hear on the phone and can be controlled remotely, some are virtually invisible as well. Because invisible hearing aids are inserted deep into the ear, near the eardrum, they require less power and amplification. And the snug fit makes them more comfortable to wear.

Starkey’s new invisible-in-the-canal hearing aid, OtoLens, is invisible when worn because it sits within the second bend of the ear canal. Unlike other “invisible” in-canal hearing aids, this one can be removed by the wearer every day; other brands require a visit to an audiologist to insert and remove the aid, or even to change its batteries. Daily removal can promote better ear health. Digital signal processing ensures clear sound in nearly every situation. Log on to www.starkey.com to learn more.

Better bifocals

Ben Franklin invented bifocals in the late 1760s, to help relieve the need to carry two pairs of glasses – one for close reading, the other for seeing distances. Bifocals have come a long way since then.

While many of us may remember seeing the tell-tale line between the distances and reading portions of the lenses in our grandparents’ glasses, modern bifocal glasses can look the same as single-vision lenses. The line of division between lens powers can be invisible. Another type of lens actually allows the wearer to turn off the reading magnification. And bifocals can now be fitted into virtually any designer frame – bulky frames are no longer needed to hold thick lenses.

Finally, if you’ve always worn contact lenses, there’s no need anymore to add reading glasses to your vision care equipment. Now you can wear contact lenses that also provide a bifocal effect.

Thanks to modern technology like invisible-in-the-canal hearing aid and better bifocals, it’s possible to age more gracefully than ever.

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