What is presbyopia?
Presbyopia is age-related farsightedness. It is a natural part of aging that causes objects up close to appear blurry.
What causes presbyopia?
When a person is born the crystalline lens is somewhat soft and putty-like. This allows the lens to be flexible and perform the accommodation reflex for focusing.
As we age, the lens becomes more rigid and less elastic. The ciliary muscle surrounding the lens also loses its tone. As a result, the eye has a harder time changing shape to focus on objects up close.
When does presbyopia develop?
Most people begin to notice the effects of presbyopia after the age of 40 when it starts to become difficult to read print or other items up close.
Everyone will experience presbyopia to some degree, even those who have never had vision problems before.
What are the signs and symptoms of presbyopia?
If you find yourself squinting to read the computer screen or struggling to read a restaurant menu, magazine, or food labels and you are over the age of 40, chances are you have presbyopia.
One of the most noticeable signs of presbyopia is when you begin holding items at arms length to properly see.
Presbyopia can also cause headaches, eyestrain, and fatigue when working on near vision tasks.
How is presbyopia diagnosed?
Presbyopia is diagnosed during routine, comprehensive eye exams with an ophthalmologist. The doctor will test your ability to see near and distance objects, and dilate your pupils to see the inside of your eye.
If you are not over the age of 40 vision concerns could be related to myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism causing similar symptoms.
What is the treatment for presbyopia?
There is no cure for presbyopia.
Treatment for the condition includes eyeglasses, contact lenses, or corrective surgery.
Eyeglasses available for presbyopia include:
- Reading glasses. If presbyopia is your only condition, reading glasses may be all you need. Often called “readers,” these are only worn during reading or other near tasks.
- Bifocals. For individuals with difficulty seeing distance items, bifocals can be worn to correct distance vision when looking through the glasses at eye level, and correct near vision when looking through the lower portion of the lens.
- Trifocals. Also known as multifocal. These glasses have three lens areas for near, mid-range, and far vision depending on where you look through the lens.
- Progressive lenses. Are similar to bifocals or trifocals, but instead of a line that divides each area, the refraction gradually changes from top to bottom.
If you prefer to wear contact lenses, there are two types that can help correct presbyopia.
- Monovision contacts correct one eye for distance vision and the other for near vision. Monovision takes some getting used to and you may experience a lose of ability to judge distance or speed.
- Bifocal and multifocal lenses have zones set at different powers for both near and distance vision. Your brain learns to automatically select the right zone to focus on what you want to see. You may have less sharp vision with multifocal contacts.
LASIK or CK Refractive surgery is also available to create monovision. Like monovision contacts, one eye is corrected for clear distance vision and the other is corrected for close-up vision.