16 Aug What is Presbyopia, and Do I Have It?
As you age, your vision naturally changes. You may notice that it becomes more difficult to focus on objects that are close to you, such as reading or detailed close work—even if you have never had trouble with your vision before! Difficulty focusing on close objects as you age is called presbyopia and is a normal part of the aging process. Learn more about presbyopia, its symptoms, and treatment, in this article.
1. What is Presbyopia?
Presbyopia is an eye condition in which the eye slowly loses its ability to focus quickly on close objects. It is a gradual deterioration that will affect the ability to read or do work up close. The changes in vision associated with presbyopia will affect everyone during the natural aging process but can be more noticeable in some than others. Usually, deterioration begins occurring around age 40; if you notice the signs or symptoms of presbyopia before age 40, it is important to see your eye doctor, as it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Presbyopia is caused due to the weakening of the eye’s lens. When light enters your eye, your lens changes shape in order to bend the light’s rays and focus it on the retina at the back of the eye. The lens becomes less flexible as you age, and thus cannot change shape as easily or as quickly. This affects the eyes’ ability to properly bend the light to focus on your retina, preventing your eyes from focusing.
2. What are the Symptoms of Presbyopia?
Overall, the symptoms of presbyopia are mild and include difficulty seeing items that are close to you. Presbyopia can cause eye strain, fatigue, or headaches when reading or doing close work, and you may need to squint to focus on nearby items. You may notice you are having difficulty reading small print, need a brighter light to read, or have begun holding reading material at arm’s length to focus on it properly. If you are experiencing these symptoms and are above 40, it is likely you are suffering from presbyopia. Whether you have pre-existing eye conditions or not, it is important that you see your eye doctor for an examination, diagnosis, and treatment options.
3. How is Presbyopia Treated?
If you have symptoms of presbyopia, it is important to see your eye doctor for an examination. If you are under 40 and are noticing symptoms, it is especially important to contact your doctor as this could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Adults without any symptoms or risk factors should still undergo a baseline screening exam at age 40, as this can help to identify early signs of eye disease and vision changes that can begin at this age without showing symptoms. Presbyopia can be diagnosed as part of a comprehensive eye exam, and while there is no cure, there are many treatments that exist to correct your vision. These include corrective lenses, contact lenses, or even vision surgery.
Once you have been diagnosed with presbyopia, the most likely course of treatment will be with corrective lenses. While you may be quick to dismiss this new need for glasses, they can greatly improve your sight, comfort, and quality of life! If you did not require prescriptive eyeglasses prior to your diagnosis with presbyopia, you may even be able to use non-prescriptive reading glasses, typically available at drug stores. To find the right glasses, try on different levels of magnification and choose the lowest magnification at which you can comfortably read a newspaper.
If you already require prescriptive lenses or are unable to find a non-prescription magnification that works for you, you will need prescription lenses to correct your presbyopia. There are many options available including:
Bifocal Lenses: these lenses have two different areas of focus, for both near and distance vision. These areas are often distinct.
Progressive Lenses: progressive lenses are like bifocal lenses, but offer a more gradual transition between distance and close focus areas
Trifocal Lenses: have three different areas of focus, for close, middle, and distance vision
Bifocal Contact Lenses: these lenses provide the same option as bifocal glasses
Monovision Contact Lenses: this option requires you to wear a different strength contact lens in each eye – one for distance, one for close work
Your eye doctor will be able to assist you in determining which option best suits your lifestyle and vision needs. If you believe that you are in need of a prescription to remedy your presbyopia, contact your eye care professional for an examination. Presbyopia is a normal part of aging and should not be a cause of alarm—or avoided. Continue to live your life to the fullest, with clear vision, by embracing your presbyopia.
The optometrists at Dr D’Orio Eyecare are committed to your eye health. To book an appointment today, visit https://drdorioeyecare.com/book-appointment/ or call us at 416 656 2020 for our Toronto location, or 416 661 5555 for our North York location.