What is Presbyopia?
'Presbyopia is a very common vision problem that affects millions of people each year. Essentially, it occurs when the natural lens in the eye begins to lose the flexibility that it had previously, and the ability to focus changes. Think of the eye as if it is a camera, which uses mechanical features to adjust lenses and bring the field of view into proper focus. Presbyopia is part of the eye’s natural aging process, and is in fact as natural as wrinkles. It affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. An eye exam can help determine the level of farsightedness effecting your vision.
Presbyopia is commonly called Farsightedness.
Typically, presbyopia starts making its first appearance in peoples’ eyes around the age of 40 to 45, but exact timing will vary depending on the individual. It should not be confused with farsightedness, which has similar symptoms, but is the result of the natural shape of the eyeball rather than changes in the lens in the eye. Presbyopia can be frustrating for those who are experiencing it's symptoms, but it is typically easily correctable, and there are lots of treatment options.
Presbyopia Warning Signs and Symptoms
There are several warning signs and symptoms of presbyopia that people should be aware of so that they can take corrective measures. Often, the first symptom is having a hard time reading small print. People often try holding printed items far out in front of them in an effort to focus, which is an obvious sign that presbyopia might be starting to be an issue for them. In many cases, even after doing this, the print still doesn’t come into focus. This is very common.
Along with trouble reading fine print, people often start having trouble seeing objects that are close to them with presbyopia. This so-called “mid-range” is often defined as between three and 20 feet away from the eyes, and trouble adjusting and focusing is a key symptom of presbyopia.
Often, with presbyopia, people struggle with some slightly more painful symptoms as well. Many develop headaches and eyestrain because of the eye muscles’ constant struggle to focus on objects in the field of view. This type of pain can be among the most frustrating symptoms of presbyopia.
Many people wait a long time before they decide that they want to deal with their eyesight problems, but in order to get treatment, a proper diagnosis is necessary. Presbyopia can be diagnosed through a comprehensive dilated eye exam from a trained eye care professional. It is recommended that anyone who is experiencing vision problems should seek professional help. It is also recommended for anyone over the age of 40 to have more frequent eye exams to diagnose and treat presbyopia and other age-related eye problems.
Presbyopia is a condition which cannot be cured, but it can be easily treated. The primary treatment for presbyopia is corrective lenses. These lenses can be prescription glasses, contact lenses, reading glasses, progressive lenses, or bifocals. For many people, a simple pair of non-prescription reading glasses is all that is required, but when other vision impairments are present, more advanced corrective lenses are necessary.
In many cases, bifocals are prescribed for presbyopia when the patient is also near-sighted. Bifocal lenses are lenses specially made with two different prescriptions built in. The top of the lens will remain for seeing objects at a distance, and a secondary lens is at the bottom of the glasses for activities such as reading and seeing items which are very close to the eye. Read more about this condition at the American Optometric Association website.
Progressive lenses provide slightly more vision correction than bifocals as they provide appropriate fields of vision at multiple levels, rather than just two. This allows them to provide specific viewing areas for the user for seeing objects at a distance, up-close, and the middle range as well. Progressive lenses can take some getting used to, but they are becoming a very popular option for people with farsightedness.
Contact lenses are also available to correct presbyopia. There are multifocal lenses, which are similar to progressive lenses in that they include several fields of view for distance, up-close and mid-range. There are also monovision contact lenses, which mean that one eye wears a lens designed for seeing objects at a distance, while the other eye wears a lens designed for seeing items which are very close.
Another, less common treatment for presbyopia can be surgical options. A presbyopia-correcting cataract surgery can replace the eye’s natural intraocular lens with an artificial one. This type of surgery can be expensive, however. Also, certain surgical options for presbyopia are ineffective over the long term, as vision can continue to change with aging.
Clearly, farsightedness is a common problem. It affects almost everyone, and there are lots of solutions to treat and correct its symptoms. Our Doctors can help diagnosis this condition with an easy, convenient eye exam. During your visit, you can discuss your preference for either glasses or contacts. Call us today to schedule your appointment!