When you focus on something close up (a book, for example) the muscles around the lens of your eye contract to make the lens change shape. This helps focus light onto your retina so that you can see clearly. As you age, the flexibility of this lens decreases. By your late 30s or 40s, nearby objects may start to look blurred. Later on, your distance vision may be affected. While there’s no cure for presbyopia, reading glasses or contact lenses will correct your vision and keep you seeing clearly and comfortably for years to come.
Who’s at Risk of Developing Presbyopia?
Everyone. Presbyopia is a natural part of aging. It typically gets worse until you reach your late 50s when you’ll have no natural focusing ability left.
Symptoms of Presbyopia
Presbyopia develops gradually so you may not spot subtle changes in your eyesight at first. If you’re over 40, watch out for these telltale signs that may indicate your vision is deteriorating:
- You hold reading material farther away to see words more clearly
- Experience blurred vision at your normal reading distance
- Eyestrain or headaches after reading or close-up work
- Above symptoms may be worse if you’re tired or in an area with poor lighting
- Find yourself enlarging font size on computers and tablets
Treating Presbyopia in Cambridge
Typically, reading glasses are your best option. However, while reading glasses are great for focusing on objects that are close by, objects in the distance will look blurred. No doubt, you’ll have seen people staring over the top of their reading glasses to focus on far away objects. A great way to address both distances without the need for multiple pairs of glasses is with bifocal or varifocal lenses.
- Bifocal lenses
Bifocals have two parts to the lens, separated by a line: the top section focuses light from distant objects, the bottom section focuses light from nearby objects.
- Varifocal lenses
In a similar way to bifocals, varifocals address both near and far vision in one lens, without an obvious line between the two. You simply move your eyes as you look around to view through the correct part of the lens depending on your task
- Contact lenses
Bifocal and varifocal contact lenses work well for some people. Alternatively, you could consider correcting distance vision in one eye and close up vision in the other, which is called monovision. If you feel that contact lenses would be best for you, discuss your options with your optometrist.
If you live in Cambridge or the surrounding area and have noticed a deterioration in your vision, please book an eye exam with Taank today.
Presbyopia: Frequently Asked Questions
- I currently have perfect vision; how will presbyopia affect me?
If you have perfect (emmetropic) vision, presbyopia will only affect your near and middle vision (looking at a computer, for example). Your distance vision will remain unaffected, so you’ll continue to be able to drive without glasses.
- How will presbyopia affect my near vision?
If you’re short-sighted (myopic) with glasses that help you see in the distance, you’ll find that you can probably read by removing your glasses. However, even if you’re very short-sighted you may find you need to hold things close to you to see them clearly without glasses. If taking your glasses off to read gets annoying, consider switching to bifocals or varifocals.
- How will presbyopia affect my distance vision?
If you happen to be long-sighted (hyperopic), as you age your distance vision (without glasses) and near vision will deteriorate. As with short-sighted people, you’ll need glasses for both distance and close-up viewing. Bifocals and varifocals are an option.
- Why do I only seem to need my reading glasses at night?
It’s normal to notice that when you wear glasses things seem more blurred in poor light. This is because as your pupils dilate in response to dim light, you have less depth of focus. The opposite is true in bright light when your pupils contract, increasing your depth of focus so that blurring is less noticeable.
How to Keep Your Eyes in Optimal Health
Presbyopia occurs are we age and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it altogether. However, a healthy lifestyle is good for keeping your eyes in good condition at every stage of life, including:
- Stop smoking
- Wear UV-absorbing glasses
- Exercise: Maintain a healthy weight and control your blood pressure, both of which have been linked with age-related macular degeneration.
- Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruit and dark green vegetables (kale, spinach, celery and broccoli) supports eye health and may reduce your risk of developing AMD.
- Have regular eye exams: Early diagnosis of any eye condition is essential in preventing further loss of vision. Eye exams can also flag up other underlying health issues that you may not be aware of, so it makes sense on many levels.
Ask an Expert
Presbyopia affects us all and is a natural part of aging. The best thing you can do to ensure optimal vision at every stage of life is to stay active and healthy and have regular eye exams. If you live in Cambridge and have questions about presbyopia or any other eye condition, book an appointment with Head Optometrist, Anjana Taank.