Presbyopia is part of the natural aging process of the eye, and can be easily corrected. Technically, presbyopia is the loss of the eye's ability to change its focus to see objects that are near. It is not a disease. It's as natural as wrinkles, and it affects everyone at some point in life. Presbyopia generally starts to appear around age 40.
Presbyopia is often confused with farsightedness, but the two are different. Presbyopia occurs when the natural lens in the eye loses flexibility. Farsightedness occurs as a result of the natural shape of the eyeball, which causes light rays to bend incorrectly once they have entered the eye.
What Are the Symptoms of Presbyopia?
Symptoms of presbyopia include:
- The need to hold reading material at arm's length.
- Blurred vision at a normal reading distance.
- Headaches or fatigue from doing close work.
How Is Presbyopia Diagnosed?
An eye doctor can diagnose presbyopia by performing a thorough eye exam.
How Is Presbyopia Treated?
Presbyopia cannot be cured. Instead, prescription glasses, contact lenses, reading glasses, progressive addition lenses, or bifocals can help correct the effects of presbyopia. Bifocals are often prescribed for presbyopia. Bifocals are eyeglasses that have two different prescriptions in one spectacle lens. The top part of the lens corrects for distance vision and the lower portion of the lens is designed to help a person see objects up close. Progressive addition lenses are similar to bifocals but they are made to have a gradual or blended transition between the two prescriptions.
Contact lenses used to treat presbyopia include multifocal lenses, which come in soft or gas permeable versions, and monovision lenses, in which one eye wears a lens that aids in seeing objects at a distance, while the other has a lens that aids in near vision.
The FDA has approved a surgical procedure called conductive keratoplasty to treat presbyopia. Instead of lasers, conductive keratoplasty uses radio waves. The doctor uses a small instrument to apply the radio waves to the eye (usually just one eye) to reshape the cornea and improve the patient's vision of nearby objects.
Other procedures are available as well. Talk to your doctor to find out which treatment is best for you.