Are things beginning to look a little blurry when reading? You might be developing presbyopia. This naturally-occurring eye condition is common in millions of people across the UK.
What is presbyopia?
Presbyopia is an age-related eye condition that causes blurring of your close-up vision. Presbyopia is believed to occur because of a gradual thickening of the lens. This thickening restricts the flexibility of the lens, causing things to look blurry when you try to focus on close objects.
Presbyopia has nothing to do with the shape of your eye in the way astigmatism, near and far-sightedness does. This means that even those who suffer from such conditions can develop presbyopia too.
Sufferers of presbyopia are known as presbyopes.
Presbyopia begins to affect people around the age of 40. People commonly find that they need to hold books or menus at arm’s length in order to focus on them properly. The difficulty in focusing also leads to eyestrain, headaches and fatigue. Over time, the lens will stiffen and focusing will become more and more difficult.
There are a number of highly effective treatments for presbyopia that range from corrective lenses to surgery.
Eyeglasses for presbyopia
Presbyopes commonly find that adopting bifocal or varifocal glasses is a convenient and cost-effective way to treat presbyopia. Bifocal lenses have two different levels of focus. The bottom portion has a stronger prescription for close distances to counter the effects of presbyopia. The top portion has your standard prescription.
The most common option for glasses, however, is varifocal lenses. These act in a similar way to a bifocal, only with a gradual transition from distance to near prescription. This solution makes the lenses more visually attractive (as they look the same as single vision glasses), but can take a little more getting used to.
Finally, there are reading glasses. These are best suited to those who prefer just to use glasses to read eg. their morning paper, and have no desire to wear glasses all day long.
Contact lenses for presbyopia
Just like glasses, contact lenses for presbyopia can be multifocal. This allows you to simultaneously see at distance whilst helping to compensate for your weaker close vision. Contact lenses offer another option for sufferers of presbyopia: monovision. Monovision contact lenses have a different prescription for each eye. One eye has good long distance viewing, while the other eye has good short distance viewing. The brain quickly learns to favour one eye over the other depending on what you’re looking at.
The final option for presbyopia is surgery. Presbyopia surgery involves replacing the natural lens with an artificial lens. This lens works in a similar way to multifocal contact lenses, only the lens stays permanently inside the eye. This is the same operation as for cataract surgery.
Surgery can also be used to create monovision. Surgery is done on one eye to correct near vision while the other eye is either left alone and acts as your long distance eye, or corrected for distance if it has a distance prescription.
Advances in eye surgery are creating more options for presbyopes. For the latest advances in this field, we recommend visiting in store and discussing your eyecare options with one of our trained optometrists.