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  • Writer's pictureMr Ahmad Elsahn

What is Presbyopia? Why it Happens and How to Correct it

Updated: May 20

As we journey through life, the aging process affects many aspects of our health, and our eyes are no exception. One common vision-related issue that arises with age is presbyopia. In this blog post, we'll explore what presbyopia is, why it happens, and the various correction methods to help you regain your close-up vision.

Elderly man with glasses reading a book

What is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia is an age-related vision condition that occurs when the eye's natural lens loses flexibility and makes it challenging to focus on nearby objects. The term "presbyopia" comes from Greek words that mean "aging eye." It typically becomes noticeable in people aged 40 and older.


Why Does Presbyopia Happen?

To form an image, your eye relies on the cornea and the lens to focus light onto the retina at the back of the eye. When you focus on distant objects, the circular muscle around the cornea relaxes. Conversely, when you focus on nearby objects, the muscle constricts, allowing the lens to curve and adjust its focusing power.


In younger eyes without vision problems, the lens is typically softer and more flexible, making it easier to curve and adjust. However, as we age, the lens can gradually harden. Presbyopia occurs due to this natural hardening of the lens, which reduces its flexibility. As a result, it becomes increasingly challenging to change shape to focus on close-up objects, impacting vision.


Even individuals who have never required glasses may find that they need them later in life for tasks such as reading, using a phone, or driving, as presbyopia affects their ability to focus on close-up objects.


Aging:

The aging process is the primary cause of presbyopia. It's a natural part of growing older and affects everyone to some extent.

Genetics:

Family history can play a role in when presbyopia becomes noticeable in an individual.

Eye Health:

Certain eye conditions or diseases can accelerate the onset of presbyopia.


Common Symptoms of Presbyopia:

  • Having difficulty reading small print

  • Needing to hold reading material at an arm’s distance to focus properly on it

  • Experiencing blurry vision at normal reading distance (approx. 35cm)

  • Having eye strain or headaches after reading or doing close work

  • Needing brighter lighting when reading or doing close work

  • Overall problems seeing and focusing on objects that are close to you

  • Squinting to bring objects into focus

  • Blurry vision up-close


When to see a doctor

If blurry close-up vision is impacting your ability to read, perform close-up tasks, or enjoy daily activities, it's important to see an eye doctor. They can assess whether you have presbyopia and discuss your treatment options.


However, seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:

  • Sudden loss of vision in one eye, with or without eye pain

  • Sudden hazy or blurred vision

  • Seeing flashes of light, black spots, or halos around lights

  • Double vision


Correcting Presbyopia:

Presbyopia is a common and treatable condition. Several methods can help you regain clear vision for close-up tasks:


1. Reading Glasses:

If presbyopia is your sole vision issue, and you don't have nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, glasses might suffice. Reading glasses are designed to correct close-up vision problems by refracting light before it enters your eye. While they can typically be purchased without a prescription, it's important to determine the specific power of reading glasses you need through an eye examination.


2. Progressive or Bifocal Glasses:

If you already wear eyeglasses for other vision issues, you may now require bifocals, trifocals, or progressive lenses.

  • Bifocals address close-up and distant vision with a visible or invisible line dividing the lens. The bottom part assists with close-up vision, while the top part aids in distant vision.

  • Trifocals feature three lens areas to correct close-up, mid-range, and distant vision.

  • Progressive lenses function similarly to bifocals and trifocals but without a visible dividing line. Instead, refraction changes gradually from top to bottom within the lens.


3. Contact Lenses:

Some individuals prefer contact lenses over eyeglasses. There are two types of contact lenses that help address presbyopia:


  • Monovision contacts: These lenses correct one eye for distance vision and the other for close-up vision. Adjusting to monovision lenses requires training your brain to interpret visual information this way. However, some individuals may experience challenges with depth perception or judging distance and speed.

  • Multifocal contacts: These lenses feature several rings or zones with different powers, allowing for simultaneous correction of both near and far vision. Despite using both near and far vision simultaneously, your brain learns to automatically select the appropriate focus for the task at hand. However, some users may find that their vision is slightly less sharp compared to using monofocal lenses.


4. Monovision Contact Lenses:

In this approach, one eye is fitted with a contact lens for close-up vision, while the other eye remains focused on distance. This strategy can work well for some individuals.


5. Refractive Surgery:

Procedures like LASIK, PRK, and refractive lens exchange (RLE) can be used to correct presbyopia by reshaping the cornea or replacing the eye's natural lens with a multifocal intraocular lens (IOL).


Presbyopia is a common vision issue that affects people as they age. Fortunately, there are various correction methods available to help you regain your close-up vision and continue to enjoy reading, working on your hobbies, and performing other tasks without difficulty. If you're experiencing symptoms of presbyopia, consult with an eye care specialist to determine the best correction method for your unique needs and lifestyle. Enjoy the freedom of clear, close-up vision, no matter your age.


Presbyopia treatment at Eyepros

We offer a free no-obligation consultation to discuss your needs and what options would be most suitable for you. We have treatment centres based around the Midlands, including Nottingham, Birmingham and Derby. Get in touch to book your consultation.



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About The Author

Mr Ahmad Elsahn
ABOUT

Mr Ahmad Elsahn

Mr Ahmad Elsahn is a highly accomplished Consultant Ophthalmologist specialising in cataract surgery, minimally invasive glaucoma surgery and laser eye surgery, with over two decades of experience.

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