What Is Presbyopia?

Have you noticed you’ve been moving your glasses up or down the bridge of your nose to see better closeup? Or perhaps you’ve started building a collection of drug store reading glasses? It may be time to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. You may be experiencing symptoms of presbyopia. 

Presbyopia is a normal part of aging. It occurs when your eye loses some of its natural flexibility. This makes it more difficult for your lens to change shape, making it harder to focus on objects. Continue reading to learn more about presbyopia with the eye doctors at Clarkson Eyecare. 

What Causes Presbyopia?

There is a lens in our eye which changes shape and allows us to view objects at different focal distances. Presbyopia comes from the Greek term "old eye," and is caused by natural aging. As we age, this lens in the eye becomes less flexible and more rigid. Presbyopia is a normal part of the aging process, and usually occurs around the age of 45. Everyone develops some degree of presbyopia as they get older, but some struggle with it more than others. This condition can worsen until you reach the age of 65. 

How is Presbyopia Diagnosed?

Presbyopia can be found during your annual dilated eye examination. Always inform your eye doctor of any changes in your vision or vision problems, as it may be a symptom of a more serious condition. 

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How Does Presbyopia Affect Your Vision?

Those who are developing presbyopia will experience symptoms similar to farsightedness, which is a refractive error that makes it difficult to see up close. Although similar, presbyopia and farsightedness are not the same condition.

Presbyopia affects your vision by making nearby objects appear blurry. In addition to difficulty seeing things clearly up close, people with presbyopia may experience feelings of eye strain and headaches.

How Is Presbyopia Treated?

There are many ways to treat presbyopia. If you’ve been diagnosed with presbyopia, your treatment will be decided by the severity of your condition and with the help of your eye doctor.

Reading Glasses

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. Your eye doctor can make sure you have the proper vision correction — and make sure your vision changes aren't associated with other problems. Reading glasses may be the best option for those only diagnosed with presbyopia. Having other refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, will require you to switch between your reading glasses and your nearsighted lenses. 

Monovision Contact Lenses

Monovision contact lenses offer different prescriptions in each eye. One eye will be focused on improving your distance vision, with the other prescription lens perfect for closeup. Monovision contacts can take a little to get used to but `will reduce the effects of presbyopia. 

Bifocal or Trifocal Lenses

For those with nearsightedness or myopia, switching between your reading glasses and the lenses you use for distance vision can be frustrating. Your eye doctor may be able to offer you offer prescription bifocal or progressive lenses. These prescriptions can either be in glasses or contact lenses, allowing you to choose the option that best works for your lifestyle. 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. 

Progressive Lenses

Both trifocal and bifocal have a noticeable transition line between each optical power, which 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. This lens is commonly referred to as multifocal contacts when used as a contact lens rather than a glasses prescription. 

Refractive Surgery

Some doctors recommend refractive surgery as a surgical option for treating presbyopia. During refractive surgery, your eye doctor will use a laser to correct each eye for near or far vision. This procedure will cause you to have monovision, which means one eye will be for near and one eye will be for far away. This procedure is often recommended if you’ve had success with monovision contact lenses. 

Corneal Inlays

Your doctor may suggest undergoing corneal inlay surgery, which is a minimally invasive surgical procedure. During the procedure, a small device will be implanted into your cornea. This will restore your close-up vision. 

Eye Drops

Recent developments in eye treatment options have opened the door for presbyopia treatment via eye drops. They work by changing the size of the pupil, which may improve your near vision.  

Minor Adjustments

Presbyopia can also be treated by making small adjustments to your life such as choosing large-print books or using more lighting when reading. These options may only work for those with moderate presbyopia symptoms. 

Watch for Signs of a More Serious Condition

If you experience other symptoms in addition to blurred near vision, it could be a sign of a more serious eye problem. See your doctor right away if you experience:

  • floaters or flashes

  • fluctuations in the clarity of your vision

  • loss of peripheral (side) vision

  • lines or other distortions in your field of vision

  • severe eye pain

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Schedule an Eye Exam for Treatment

Regular visits to your eye doctor can detect eye conditions before they become serious. We recommend getting a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. To schedule an appointment with your local Clarkson Eyecare, find a location near you.