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When you design for the eye over age 40, you design for ALL eyes.

Knowing what diminishes legibility is the first step to communicating with optimal impact and clarity.


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The following story was published in the City of Edina, Minnesota, “About Town” publication. It discusses their experience with the Elder Eye BP Review and the resulting changes that were implemented based on the Review recommendation. Since this project, Elder Eye has continued to work with the City of Edina to enhance their communications with the aging eye.

Image of About Town cover

“Elder Eye Design provided valuable information every graphic designer should be aware of when selecting type for readers who are over age 40.”

– Cindy Martin, Art Director and Designer of “About Town”

About Town has been redesigned for ease of reading.
Most changes were made particularly for those readers
with “aging eyes.”

In the general population, one in 20 people has partial
sight, according to the National Eye Institute. More than
half of visually impaired people are over the age of 65 –
and that number rises as our population lives longer.
Age-related vision losses, particularly the loss of close-up
vision, begin at about the age of 40.

Of Edina’s residents, 64 percent are over the age of 35,
according to the 2000 census. The community’s median
age is 44. These figures suggest that the majority of
Edina’s population might be dealing with age-related
vision issues.

Orono-based Elder Eye Design late last year completed an
audit of About Town and made suggestions for improving
the publication. Elder Eye Design focuses on the design of
visual materials to achieve maximum legibility for the age-
compromised eye. Elder Eye has the expertise, through the
study of eye physiology and the review of current vision
research as it relates to aging, to make recommendations
for the best use of graphic materials for the aging eye.

“When a person reaches the age of 40, their eyes begin to
show signs of aging and the act of reading becomes more
difficult. Those older eyes need to receive their informa-
tion without visual clutter and with consideration to their
changing needs,” said Elder Eye founder Wendy Johnson.
“Elder Eye’s principal concept is when you design for the
aging eye, you design for all generations.”

Many of the changes made to the design of the quarterly
newsletter are subtle. Among them:

• The main typeface was changed to Palatino Roman.
The font previously used was too light and narrow
for the aging eye to read well.

• Headlines were changed from an italicized font to a
bold font, Korinna. Italicized type is harder for an
aging eye to read. For that same reason, “call-to-action”
paragraphs such as those that begin with “For more
information, please call... “are also now presented in
a non-italicized font.

• The winter issue was changed to a darker color. Colors
should be used that are dark enough to provide good
contrast with the paper background. The metallic blue
with its silver sheen previously used for the winter
issues did not provide good contrast to the white paper.

• Colored text on a colored page is no longer used as often.
Using colored text over a screened background of the
same color does not provide enough contrast for good
legibility. This change will be most noticeable on the
calendar. Now, the calendar is white. Additionally, the
use of all capital letters on the calendar was eliminated,
as all caps is difficult for the aging eye to read.

• The font used in charts is sans serif, which is easier to read.
“The changes may seem subtle – some readers might not
even notice a change – but they should make a dramatic
difference in the ease of reading,” said City of Edina
Communications Director Jennifer Bennerotte. “The
design changes were made to encourage residents to
continue reading About Town, with the ultimate goal
being the encouragement to participate more fully in
the services and programs that the City of Edina offers.”

COLOURS Marketing Communications, designer of About
Townechoed those comments. “Elder Eye Design provided
valuable information every graphic designer should
be aware of when selecting type for readers who are
over age 40,” said Cindy Martin, Art Director of
COLOURS and designer of About Town. “Based on
their recommendations, we switched to fonts that are
easier to read, and we eliminated elements such as upper
case headlines and large amounts of italics, which are
sometimes difficult to discern by the mature eye.”


Elder Eye Best Practice Reviews are comprehensive yet very reasonably priced.

Please contact us for more information.


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