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Presbyopia

Overview

Presbyopia is an eye condition in which your eye slowly loses the ability to focus quickly on objects that are close. It’s a disorder that affects everyone during the natural aging process.

When light enters your eye, it passes through your cornea. Then, it passes through your pupil. Your iris is the colored ring in your eye that opens and closes your pupil to adjust the amount of light passing through it.

After passing through your pupil, the light passes through your lens. In its healthiest state, your lens changes shape so it can bend the light rays further and focus them on your retina at the back of your eye.

Your lens becomes less flexible with age. Then, it can’t change shape as easily. As a result, it’s unable to bend the light properly to focus it on your retina.

Symptoms of Presbyopia

The most common symptoms of presbyopia occur around age 40 for most people. The symptoms of presbyopia typically involve a gradual deterioration in your ability to read or do work up close.

Common symptoms of presbyopia are:

  • having eyestrain or headaches after reading or doing close work
  • having difficulty reading small print
  • having fatigue from doing close work
  • needing brighter lighting when reading or doing close work
  • needing to hold reading material at an arm’s distance to focus properly on it
  • overall problems seeing and focusing on objects that are close to you
  • squinting

Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is a condition that has symptoms similar to presbyopia. However, they’re two different disorders. In both conditions, distant objects are clear, but closer objects appear blurry.

Hyperopia occurs when your eye is shorter than normal or your cornea is too flat. With these malformations, the light rays focus behind your retina, as in presbyopia.

However, hyperopia is a refractive error that’s present at birth. It’s possible to have hyperopia and then develop presbyopia with age.

Treatment of presbyopia

No cure exists for presbyopia. However, there are several treatments available to correct your vision. Depending on your condition and lifestyle, you may be able to choose from corrective lenses, contact lenses, or surgery to correct your vision.

Nonprescription lenses

If you didn’t need eyeglasses before getting presbyopia, you might be able to use nonprescription reading glasses. These readers are typically available at retail stores, such as drug stores. They typically work best for reading or close work.

When selecting a pair of nonprescription reading glasses, try different degrees of magnification. Choose the lowest magnification that allows you to read a newspaper comfortably.

Prescription lenses

You’ll need prescription lenses for presbyopia if you can’t find an appropriate magnification from the nonprescription offerings.

You’ll also need a prescription if you already have lenses to correct another eye problem. There are several variations of prescription lenses, such as the following:

  • Prescription reading glasses can be used if you have no eye problems other than presbyopia and prefer not to purchase your glasses off the shelf.
  • Bifocals have two different types of focus, with a noticeable line between them. The upper portion is set for distance while the lower portion is set for reading or close work.
  • Progressive lenses are similar to bifocal lenses. However, they don’t have a visible line, and they offer a more gradual transition between the distant and close portions of the prescription.
  • Trifocals have three different points of focus. The portions are set for close work, mid-range, and distance vision, and they can be made with or without visible lines.
  • Bifocal contact lenses provide the same option as bifocal glasses.
  • Monovision contact lenses require you to wear a contact lens set for distance vision in one eye and a different contact lens set for close work in your other eye.
  • Modified monovision contact lenses require you to wear a bifocal contact lens in one eye and a contact lens for distance in your other eye. Both eyes are used for distance, but only one eye is used for reading, and your brain adjusts as needed to process the image.

Your eyes will continue to gradually lose their ability to focus on close objects as you age. As a result, your prescription will have to be reviewed and changed according to the advice of your eye specialist.