Understanding Age-Related Eye Conditions: What is Presbyopia?

Have you noticed that it’s been harder to read objects near, such as newspapers or restaurant menus? Or have you amassed a large collection of reading glasses? You may be developing presbyopia.

Presbyopia is a normal part of aging. It occurs when your eye loses some of its natural flexibility, making it more difficult for the lens to change shape to focus on nearby objects.

Continue reading to learn more about who develops presbyopia, what causes it, and what you can do about it with the eye care experts at Nationwide Vision. 

What Causes Presbyopia?

The lens of your eye is flexible and constantly changes shape to focus on objects that are near or far. This lens begins to become more rigid with time, making it harder for the lens to change shape. Because of the lens’ inability to change shape and focus, seeing objects up close becomes difficult. 

Who Develops Presbyopia?

Presbyopia comes from the Greek term "old eye" and is caused by the eye’s natural aging process. Presbyopia tends to start to develop after your early to mid-40s. These vision changes can worsen over time, typically slowing down after age 65. 

Everyone will develop some degree of presbyopia as they age. The severity of the condition varies case by case. 

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Minor Adjustments You Can Use to See Better

Making small changes to your everyday tasks can improve your vision. These tips are for those with minor symptoms, as the condition may worsen with time. They can also be used to improve the strength of your current presbyopia treatment option. 

Here are some tips from Nationwide Vision:

  • Try to use more lighting when reading

  • Purchase large-print books or newspapers

  • Hold reading materials at a distance

  • Increase the size of the font on your phone 

Be sure to talk with your eye doctor about any existing or worsening vision problems. It may be a sign of a more harmful condition. 

Treatment Options for Presbyopia

Over-the-Counter Reading Glasses

A good pair of reading glasses can make all the difference when you have presbyopia. Talk with your eye doctor about reading glasses to determine the correct lens strength for you. 

Bifocal, Trifocal, or Progressive Lenses

Reading glasses are a great temporary solution but can become a nuisance when you have a refractive error or other vision problems. Investing in a pair of bifocals, trifocals, or progressive lenses may eliminate the need to switch between prescription glasses. 

Bifocals are lenses that are clearly separated by two optical powers. The bottom portion of the lens is for seeing closeup, while the top of the lens is for distance vision. Trifocals take this a step further and offer three optical powers for near, middle-distance, and far vision. 

Your eye doctor may be able to offer you offer prescription bifocal or trifocal lenses. These prescriptions can either be in glasses or contact lenses, enabling you to choose the option that best suits your preferences. 

Both trifocal and bifocal have a noticeable transition line between each optical power, which can obstruct your vision. If you find you’re unable to become accustomed to bifocal or trifocal glasses, your doctor may suggest progressive lenses. Progressive lenses have a seamless transition between each optical power. 

This lens is commonly referred to as multifocal contacts when used as a contact lens rather than a glasses prescription. 

Monovision Contact Lenses

Although these contacts can take a little to get used, they will help to reduce the effects of presbyopia. Someone with monovision contacts is wearing two different prescription lenses. One eye will be focused on improving your distance vision, with the other prescription lens perfect for closeup. 

Prescription Pilocarpine Eye Drops

Pilocarpine drops are a long-time treatment option for glaucoma, an eye condition caused by damage to the optic nerve. There has recently been a new development what pilocarpine drops can treat: presbyopia. 

These eye drops work by changing the size of the pupil, which can improve your near vision. Discuss your eye drop options for treating presbyopia with your eye doctor.

Surgical Options for Correcting Presbyopia

A corneal inlay is a small device that’s implanted into the cornea, which is the outer layer of your eye. This procedure is minimally invasive and will restore your up-close vision.

Some doctors recommend refractive surgery as a surgical option for treating presbyopia. During refractive surgery, your eye doctor will use a laser to correct each eye for near or far vision. Like monovision contact lenses, this procedure will allow you to see with monovision. This means one eye will be reshaped for near vision and one eye will be reshaped for seeing at a distance. 

Watch for These Signs of a More Serious Eye Condition

If you experience other symptoms in addition to blurred near vision, it could be a sign of a more serious eye problem. See your doctor right away if you experience:

  • floaters or flashes

  • fluctuations in the clarity of your vision

  • loss of peripheral (side) vision

  • lines or other distortions in your field of vision

  • severe eye pain

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Schedule An Eye Exam with eyecarecenter

Although presbyopia is a normal part of the aging process, treatment and diagnosis is still required. Find a Nationwide Vision near you to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Our skilled team of eye doctors will work alongside you to diagnose and determine the best treatment plan.