Presbyopia, or age-related farsightedness, is the progressive loss of accommodation whereby an individual loses the ability to see objects up close. This natural aging phenomenon typically starts in the mid-40s and results in symptoms such as difficulty with reading small print, eyestrain, or even headaches. Presbyopia occurs due to hardening of the natural lens – this results in inflexibility of the lens to change its focus from a distance target to a near target.
Most individuals can easily deal with the symptoms of presbyopia by simply wearing reading glasses, bifocal glasses, progressive glasses, or multifocal contact lenses.
Eyestrain when looking at something nearby is one of the most common symptoms of presbyopia. Headaches and blurry vision when focusing on close objects are other common symptoms that occur. Having trouble reading small print is one of the earliest symptoms of the condition developing. As you get older, the strength of your reading glasses will increase and these can be obtained at any drug or retail store. People who already have an eye issue that requires them to wear glasses or contacts are more prone to the onset of presbyopia. People who experience a good deal of exposure to the sun or work at a job that requires a lot of focusing on close objects (like computer work) may develop this condition sooner or more rapidly as well.
For anyone seeking a more long-term solution, surgical options are available to eliminate the aggravating symptoms of presbyopia. Common treatments to correct this condition include lens implants, different kinds of refractive surgeries, and corrective lenses like contacts or glasses.
As in cataract surgery, a lens implant can be surgically placed in your eye, with your natural lens being removed. By doing this, you can regain the ability to see more clearly up close. There are options like corrective lenses are glasses or contacts specially designed to treat this condition. Examples include prescription reading glasses, bifocals, trifocals, and multifocal lenses.
For contact lens wearers, multifocal contact lenses is a good option to provide you with vision at both distance and near targets. Alternatively, the concept of monovision can be employed to assist you with presbyopia. With monovision, contact lenses are dispensed with one dominant eye being set for distance vision and the other non-dominant eye being set for near vision. Many individuals will adapt very well to this option with proper time and counseling.
LASIK and PRK are two types of refractive surgery that can correct this condition, as well. Both involve reshaping the eye. LASIK uses a laser to reshape the cornea by removing parts of the layers underneath it. PRK reshapes the outer part of the eye, discards a part of the epithelium, and then lets it heal to correct the problem.
Many people are familiar with LASIK and ask if it can cure this presbyopia. While LASIK surgery correction improves the ability to focus on close-up objects for a long period of time, the procedure does not “cure” the problem. Essentially, LASIK can combat presbyopia but eye lenses will continue to accrue wear and tear as we age. During the surgery, a laser is used to create a flap in the cornea, and layers underneath it are taken out to reshape your eye lens so that light is sent at the correct angle to the retina.
Refractive lens exchange is another surgical option for presbyopic patients. With this procedure, each eye’s natural lens is removed and replaced with a lens implant. A multifocal lens implant, similar to a similar multifocal contact lens, is placed inside your eye and tailored according to your visual demands.