Just like every other part of the body, the eyes go through natural aging changes. Presbyopia is the term given to the aging process that affects the eye’s focusing system, making objects up close blurry. Presbyopia affects everyone, and usually begins occurring sometime in your 40’s. While this change in your vision can be unexpected and frustrating, it is important to remember that presbyopia is a painless and normal process. Luckily, there are many options to help us adapt to presbyopia. Read on to learn more about what causes presbyopia, and how eye care professionals recommend it be treated.
What Causes Presbyopia?
The focusing ability of the eye is controlled largely by a muscle called the ciliary body and the eye’s crystalline lens, which are directly behind the iris. The focusing system is strong and adaptable in youth, allowing us to effortlessly view objects up close and far away. As we get older, the ciliary body and the crystalline lens become stiffer and less flexible, and the focusing system slowly grows weaker. Eventually the eye is unable to properly focusing objects at a close distance; that is when the symptoms of presbyopia, such as blurry text messages or difficulty reading books, become noticeable. In many cases, presbyopia seems to hit suddenly, and the symptoms become abruptly obvious. In the early stages of onset, you may be able to adapt to presbyopia simply by adjusting your working distance. When objects are held further away, the focusing system is not as strained, and objects may not appear quite as blurry. However, this becomes tiresome and less effective as presbyopia progresses.
Corrective Options for Presbyopia (Hint: Reading Glasses are an Option!)
Luckily, those affected by presbyopia have many options to help them see near objects clearly again. For those who never previously needed glasses before the onset of presbyopia, over-the-counter reading glasses are an easy and accessible solution. These glasses do not require a prescription and can be found in a range of reading powers to help during different stages of presbyopia. For the individuals who are longtime glasses-wearers. several different lens designs can be used in glasses to help see clearly both up close and far away. Traditional bifocals are lenses that contain a distance prescription at the top and a reading power at the bottom of the lens. Progressive lenses, also called no-line-bifocals, have a gradient of different lens powers including a distance prescription at the top, an intermediate prescription in the middle, and a reading prescription at the bottom. Many people consider these lenses more cosmetically appealing, and the intermediate prescription included in progressive lenses is particularly useful for computer work. Contact lenses are even an option for presbyopia; many different brands of multifocal contact lenses work to provide clear distance and near vision without the need for glasses at all.
Many people wonder if there is a surgical correction for presbyopia. Unfortunately, the traditional refractive surgical methods, such as LASIK, are used to correct for a distance prescription and are not effective in treating presbyopia. However, in the cases of presbyopia where cataract surgery is needed, there is an option for a multifocal intraocular lens that can correct for vision at all distances and eliminate the need for reading glasses.