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Ask the Instructor: Aging Eyes

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

Question: “I’m 48 and I’ve noticed some changes in my vision over the past few years which I think is affecting my shooting. It there any way to compensate for this”?

On average, age-related vision changes are usually noticeable in our 40s or 50s. Our ability to rapidly transition our focus between two objects at different distances is possible because of the flexibility of the lens located behind the cornea in our eye. Most of us need some form of magnification for reading by the time we reach this age because our lens has become stiffer and less flexible. We also may notice a greater sensitivity to glare, a need for brighter light to see and we may experience diminished ability to see at night an discern contrast between similar colors. This is due to a gradual discoloration or “clouding” of the lens which makes it more difficult to see black targets against foliage or orange targets against a blue or overcast sky. So, what do we do about these pesky age-related vision changes? My advice is the same regardless of the age of the shooter.

1) Eye health is critical to high performance shooting, so get an annual eye exam. Vision changes can sometimes be symptomatic of more serious medical conditions.

2) Optimize your distance vision. Understand that optimizing your distance vision may adversely impact your close-up vision so, with the help of your eye doctor, determine the optimum prescription for you and discuss the possibility of a mono-vision solution for your everyday prescription and a different distance prescription for shooting.

3) Use the highest quality shooting glasses available. I’m partial to Pilla’s because of their superior clarity and color technology.

4) When selecting lens color, choose the one that optimizes the contrast of the targets verses the background. There are specific solutions for those with color-related deficits (color blindness).

5) When choosing a lens density (light or dark color), opt for the brightest lens available without causing eye strain, given the light conditions. This allows the maximum amount of light into the eye. Eye health, optimal acuity and maximum contrast all contribute to the quality of your visual connections with the target.

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