Not long ago, the Fighty Squirrel noticed that as her days wound down, she was struggling to read. Over the course of thirty minutes at the very end of the day, I’d go from not being able to read a computer screen, to not being able to read a book to having a massive headache. I’ve had ‘readers’ since my 20’s, and even after I’d put those buddies, things were getting relentlessly fuzzier. I went to┬ámy eye doctor convinced I’d end up with something like eye drops because my eyes were dry at night. What I ended up with was much, much worse. I ended up with bifocals.

Within one minute of coming into the room, the doctor smiled and said, “Yeah….you’re going to need bifocals. I could walk around that room out there,” he said nodding in the general direction of the waiting room, “and just start writing prescriptions for bifocals for everyone I see who is turning 40”. I was stunned. I was barely 40 and this guy thought I needed the kind of glasses my mom wears? That diagnosis should have at least come with a shot of Jack Daniels and some free Botox to take the sting off. Alas, all I just got a prescription and a handshake. Adding insult to injury, I went to the medical center vision place only to find out that they wanted close to $800 for bifocals that wouldn’t make me immediately look like my mom. That’s a lot of acorns, friends.

The Fighty Squirrel is going to offer you a few academic pro-tips to make your eyes work for you a bit longer and a bit better and save some of your hard-earned dollars along the way.

1) Before you leave your eye exam, ask if computer reading glasses are for you. Most of us academic types spend a stupid amount of time tied to computer screens. And the focal plane for computer screens and filters that can diminish eyestrain vary, so be sure you ask your doctor.

2) Walk right past your glasses-in-a-box eyeglass store and head to Zenni.com. This place is awesome. You can upload a photo of yourself, virtually try on a bunch of glasses, enter your prescription information and save a bundle. I got my $800 glasses for $75. Sure, they took two weeks to ship them from China, but who cares? Did I mention I saved over $700?? I’m sure there are other awesome places like this so put them in the Comments if you will, to help our other friends.

3) Install a reading filter for your computer screen. I have BeeLine. It’s free, it’s snazzy and takes big blocks of black and white text and makes them way more readable in blue and red. They even have a cool mini-reading test to see if it might help you zip thru your on-screen reading tasks.

There’s more pro-tips here for optimizing your monitor and setting thing to dim at nighttime. Happy reading!

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