Understanding Presbyopia

Presbyopia is a vision condition that develops with age and makes it difficult to see objects at a close range. It usually becomes noticeable in a person’s 40s and continues to progress until their mid-60s. Presbyopia can combine with other visual conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

Causes

Unlike nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, which are caused by abnormalities in the eyeball’s shape or cornea’s curvature (and usually present since birth), presbyopia is caused by age-related changes to the eyes. There is no way to avoid it.

A young, healthy lens is flexible and elastic. It can change shape to bring objects at different distances (near, far and in between) into clear focus. However, with age, changes in the lens’s proteins cause the lens to thicken and become more rigid. In addition to the more rigid lens, the muscles around the lens lose their elasticity. Because the aging lens cannot change shape as well as it did when it was younger, the eye struggles to focus on objects that are close by.

Symptoms

The primary symptom of presbyopia is the inability to focus up close. If you have developed presbyopia, you may notice that you also do the following:

  • have difficulty reading small print
  • hold a book, menu or smartphone at arm’s length (or farther) to see it clearly
  • develop frequent headaches
  • suffer repeated eyestrain
  • fatigue after performing up-close work

 Diagnosis and Treatment

If the symptoms and side effects of presbyopia have started to affect everyday life, you are encouraged to visit our eye care professionals for a comprehensive eye examination. A standard vision test will be performed to measure your visual acuity and determine the degree of presbyopia affecting you. Your eyes may be dilated so the doctor can get a clearer view of the inside of your eyes. Other instruments, lights and lenses may be used to evaluate your vision and examine your eyes. If you already wear glasses or contact lenses, the doctor will confirm your prescription and issue a new prescription if needed.

Eyeglasses are the first option to correct the visual problems caused by presbyopia. Depending on your degree of visual error, you may achieve the necessary correction from over-the-counter reading glasses — or you may need prescription glasses if you find over-the-counter lenses to be insufficient. Bifocal glasses have special lenses with different focusing powers: if you look through the glasses at eye level, the lens can correct distance vision, and if you look through the bottom of the glasses, the lens can correct reading vision. If glasses are an unappealing option, contact lenses may work.

For a more permanent solution to presbyopia, a number of surgical options are available. Please consult with one of our ophthalmologists to learn more.

Contact Our Eye Doctors Today for an Evaluation

Our eye doctors can examine your eyes, measure your visual acuity and recommend the best treatment options for your needs. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment at our state-of-the-art ophthalmology practice.