Presbyopia - Topic Overview
What is presbyopia?
the normal worsening of vision with age, especially near vision. As you
approach middle age, the
lenses in your eyes begin to thicken and lose their flexibility. The ability of
the lens to bend allows our eyes to focus on objects at varying distances
(accommodation). The loss of this ability means that
vision gets worse and objects cannot be brought into focus. This typically
becomes noticeable some time around age 40 when you
realize that you have to hold a book or newspaper farther from your face to
focus on it.
Normally, a muscle surrounding
the lens in your eye expands or contracts, depending on the distance to the
object you're focusing on. With presbyopia, the muscle still works, but it may
not work as well. Also, the lens loses much of its flexibility and won't bend
enough to bring close objects into focus. Images are then
focused behind the
retina instead of directly on it, leaving close vision
blurred. Putting greater distance between the object and your eye brings the
object into focus. For example, holding a newspaper farther from your face helps you see the words. For
this reason, presbyopia is sometimes called "long-arm syndrome."
What causes presbyopia?
Presbyopia is a natural
part of aging. As you grow older, the lenses in your eyes thicken. They lose
their elasticity, and the muscles surrounding the lenses weaken. Both these
changes decrease your ability to focus, especially on near objects. The changes
take place gradually, though it may seem that this loss of accommodation occurs
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom of
presbyopia is blurred vision, especially when you do close work or try to focus
on near objects. This is worse in dim light or when you are fatigued.
Presbyopia can also cause headaches or eyestrain.
How is presbyopia diagnosed?
usually be diagnosed with a general eye exam. Your doctor will
probably test your
visual acuity (sharpness of vision), your refractive
power (the ability of your eyes to change focus from near to far), the
condition of the muscles in your eye, and the condition of your
retina. He or she will probably also take measurements
for glasses or contact lenses at the time of the exam.
How is it treated?
Presbyopia can usually be
corrected with glasses or contact lenses. If you didn't need glasses or
contacts before presbyopia appeared, you can probably correct your eyesight by
using reading glasses for close work. Glasses you buy without a prescription
may be sufficient. But check with your eye doctor to find out the right
glasses for you. If you do buy glasses without a prescription, try out a few
different pairs of varying strength (magnification) to make sure you get
glasses that will help you read without straining.