Building up a collection of convenient store reading glasses? Having a difficult time seeing objects up close? There’s a chance you may have presbyopia.
EyeCare Associates’ team of skilled eye doctors have put this guide together so you can learn what presbyopia is and how it may be treated. Continue reading to learn more about this eye condition.
Presbyopia comes from the Greek term "old eye" and is a normal part of the aging process. It occurs when your eye loses some of its natural flexibility and the lens is unable to change shape as easily to focus on objects.
This condition makes it difficult to see objects up close and can even affect your quality of life if untreated.
The lens in the eye becomes less flexible and more rigid as we age. Most people develop presbyopia usually around the age of 45.
It’s important to note that everyone develops a degree of presbyopia as they age, but some struggle with it more than others. This condition can worsen until you reach the age of 65.
The symptoms of presbyopia are like those of farsightedness. Farsightedness is a refractive error that makes it more difficult to see objects up close. Like farsightedness, those with presbyopia will notice that nearby objects appear blurry. Although these two conditions are similar, they are not the same.
Presbyopia may also cause eye strain and headaches in addition to blurry near vision.
Your eye doctor can notice symptoms of presbyopia during your annual dilated eye exam. If you notice any worsening or newly developing vision problems, schedule an eye exam with your trusted eye doctor as soon as possible. It may be a sign of a more serious condition needing immediate attention.
Seek medical care if you’re currently experiencing blurry vision along with any of these vision problems:
Fluctuations in vision clarity
lines or other distortions appearing in your field of vision
Floaters or flashes
loss of peripheral vision
severe eye pain
Those with minor vision problems due to presbyopia may be able to fix them with minor adjustments. This can be looking for large print versions of books or newspapers, which make it easier to see for those with presbyopia.
Adding more lighting to your environment or using a light while reading may make it easier to see objects up close. Additionally, try to hold reading materials further away.
Reading glasses are an affordable option for treating presbyopia. However, they can be frustrating to wear if you have a refractive error. If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses for other refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, you will need to switch between reading glasses and your nearsighted lenses.
While over-the-counter reading glasses can help you manage presbyopia, the exact power of the vision correction you need is best determined by an eye exam with your eye doctor. They will also check to make sure your changes in vision aren't associated with a more serious condition.
Tired of switching between your reading glasses and your prescription lenses? Your eye doctor may be able to recommend a pair of prescription bifocal or progressive glasses, which help you see at more than one optical power.
Bifocals are lenses that are clearly separated by two optical powers. The bottom portion of the lens is for seeing closeup, while the top of the lens is for distance vision.
Trifocals take this a step further and offer three optical powers for near, middle-distance, and far vision. Like the bifocal lenses, the top of the trifocal lens is dedicated to distance vision and the bottom is for seeing up close. The trifocal’s third optical power, middle-distance, is in the middle of the lens. The middle-distance lens is for objects that are just out of reach, such as your computer.
These prescriptions can be in the form of glasses or contact lenses. This gives you the freedom to choose the option that best suits your lifestyle.
Trifocal and bifocal lenses often have a very noticeable transition between each optical power, often denoted with a line between the different strengths. This line can take time to adjust to, as it can obstruct your vision.
If you find you’re unable to become accustomed to bifocal or trifocal glasses, your doctor may suggest progressive lenses. Progressive lenses have a seamless transition between each optical power. Bifocals and trifocals can be purchased as progressive lenses.
This lens is commonly referred to as multifocal contacts when used as a contact lens rather than a glasses prescription.
Your eye doctor may suggest wearing monovision contact lenses if you are nearsighted and familiar with using contacts. Monovision contact lenses have two prescriptions for close and distance vision. One eye will have a prescription fit for up-close activities, while the other’s prescription will be for seeing objects that are far away.
Monovision contacts can take a little to get used to but can reduce the impact of the vision problems caused by presbyopia.
When visiting your eye doctor to evaluate your treatment options for presbyopia, ask them about eye drops. Pilocarpine drops are a long-established treatment option for those with glaucoma but has also been found to treat presbyopia. These eye drops work by changing the size of the pupil, which in turn can reduce eye pressure.
Typically, these eye drops are once-daily and take about 15 minutes to work. The effects can last around six hours. Be sure to always ask your eye doctor about the proper use of any prescribed medication.
Refractive surgery is often recommended if you’ve had success with monovision contact lenses. A laser is used to correct your eyes for near and far vision. This surgical option for treating presbyopia will give you permanent monovision.
During corneal inlay surgery, your doctor will implant a small device into your cornea. This will restore your ability to see near objects.
A comprehensive eye exam can help you stay on top of your ocular health. Not only do these exams detect vision problems, but they also help you prevent worsening or newly developed conditions.