Aging doesn’t just affect the body and mind; it also impacts the eyes. Becoming farsighted with age—also called presbyopia—means your eyes are losing the ability to focus on nearby objects. It is harder to see clearly at close distances, such as when reading or working at the computer.
Presbyopia is a part of the natural aging process of the eye. It cannot be prevented, but it can be corrected. WebMD Connect to Care spoke with Margaret Liu, MD, ophthalmologist and founder of the San Francisco Eye Institute at the Pacific Vision Foundation, to help explain five facts about age-related farsightedness you probably didn’t know.
1. Everyone experiences vision changes with age.
Practically everyone will lose the ability to see objects at near distance clearly. As you get older, your eyes lose the ability to focus, and the natural lenses harden and lose their flexibility.
“Adults over the age of 40 may start becoming farsighted with age, and you’ll see the lens change color from yellow to orange and even dark brown,” Liu says.
2. Farsightedness does not get better with age, but it may stop.
Once age-related farsightedness begins, it is progressive and will continue over your lifetime. “In fact, farsightedness is present at birth, but the eye naturally corrects itself as it grows,” Liu says. “The lens adapts through a process called accommodation, but as we get older, accommodation becomes more difficult, and farsightedness is unveiled.”
By age 45, an estimated 83% of adults have age-related farsightedness. Over age 50, it’s nearly guaranteed. According to the American Optometric Association, when you reach your mid-60s, changes to near vision should stop.
3. There are other symptoms associated with age-related farsightedness.
The most common symptom is difficulty reading up close, particularly in poor lighting. You might also have trouble adjusting to glaring lights while driving. Some other common changes to vision include aching or burning eyes, headaches and difficulty maintaining a clear focus on nearby objects.
4. Eye training can help ease symptoms.
Exercising eye muscles is unlikely to reverse impaired vision, but there are things you can do to prevent eye strain. Using the 20-20-20 rule, take a break from reading every 20 minutes and focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Scanning the room from side to side, look at every object slowly to see every detail. This technique can reduce visual fatigue.
5. There are options for treating farsightedness.
If age-related farsightedness is the only vision problem, then reading glasses may be all you need. With other vision problems, you may need contact lenses, bifocals or progressive lenses. Laser corrective eye surgery, such as LASIK, may be an option that can improve vision for years after surgery.
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