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Presbyopia - Topic Overview

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.

If you already use glasses or contacts to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, you'll need a new prescription that will also correct presbyopia. You may wish to use bifocals, in which distant vision is corrected at eye level and close vision is corrected at the bottom. Other options include trifocal glasses, which can correct for distant, near, and middle vision; progressive lenses, which give a smooth transition between distant, middle, and near vision; bifocal contact lenses; or monovision contact lenses, which correct distant vision in your dominant eye and close vision in your weaker eye. Your prescription may have to be changed over time as presbyopia gets worse.

If you don't want to wear glasses or contacts, surgery may be an option. Procedures that can help treat presbyopia include laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). Both of these surgeries use lasers to reshape the cornea camera.gif of your eye. Laser surgery cannot give you both distance and near vision in the same eye. But your doctor can correct one eye for distance vision and the other eye for near vision.

Another surgery option is clear lens extraction with an intraocular lens implant, in which the natural lens is removed and an artificial one is implanted to replace it. Some lens implants correct either distance or near vision. Others (called multifocal implants) correct both near and distance vision.

None of these surgeries will restore perfect vision—you will have to compromise. For example, you may have surgery to correct distance vision and then use reading glasses for near vision. Or you may have one eye adjusted for near vision and one for distance vision, which would reduce your depth perception. New procedures that reverse presbyopia are being developed and tested.

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