Presbyopia is a slow loss of ability to see close objects or small print. It is a normal process that happens over a lifetime. Presbyopia can begin in the late thirties, but by the age of 55, close to 100% of the population is affected. You may not notice any change until after the age of 40.

The first sign is letters look fuzzy when reading up close and you have difficulty reading in low-light situations. People with presbyopia often hold reading materials at arm's length. Some get headaches or "tired eyes" while reading or doing other close work. Presbyopia is often corrected with:

Presbyopia is not degenerative on the eye but is a progressive condition that is best properly diagnosed and treated by an eye care professional.


Corrective Measures

Good lighting - use sufficient lighting for movement inside and outside, and use sufficient lighting for detail tasks.

Eye Exams - regular eye exams[every 1-2 years] are important for early detection of eye problems. Also medical checks for diseases such as diabetes, which can cause eye problems if not treated. Always seek treatment if you notice any loss of eyesight, double vision, pain, swelling on or around the eye or any fluids from the eye.

Correct Bifocal Lenses - a common solution to presbyopia is the use of bifocal lenses, howeverr, these can cause discomfort for those using computers. This is because 'reading glasses' are designed to focus the eyes at a distance of 12" to 18" - a computer display is usually 19" to 24" away. You may find you need a special pair just for computer work.

Use Low Vision Aids - for very fine print, such as phone books and labels, use devices that are stronger than regular eyeglasses, such as magnifying glasses, light-filtering lenses and electronic devices.


Eyeglasses For Presbyopia

The most common correction for presbyopia is eyeglasses - either standard reading glasses or more specialized eyeglasses with bifocal or progressive addition lenses [PAL].

Bifocal lenses have two points of focus:

  1. the main part of the spectacle lens contains a prescription for nearsightedness or farsightedness,
  2. the lower portion of the lens holds the stronger near prescription for close work.

Progressive addition lenses are similar to bifocal lenses, but have a more gradual visual transition between the two prescriptions, with no visible lines between them.

Reading glasses - reading glasses are typically worn just during close work. If you wear contact lenses, your eye doctor can prescribe reading glasses that you wear while your contacts are in. You may purchase readers over-the-counter at a retail store, or you can get higher-quality versions prescribed by your eyecare practitioner.

Contact lenses for presbyopia - these are multifocal contact lenses made with gas permeable or soft lens materials.

NOTE: the eye lens continues to change as we grow older, hence your presbyopic prescription will also need adjusting [generally to a stronger correction], over time.


Corrective Procedures

Surgical procedures aimed at improving the focusing power of the eye are called refractive surgery.

LASIK Surgery

Lasik Surgery - LASIK [Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis] is where a laser is used to change the contour of the cornea permanently. This has proven highly successful and is a very popular procedure.

Conductive Keratoplasty

Conductive Keratoplasty [CK] - uses radiowaves, rather than lasers to shape the cornea as a procedure for hyperopia [farsightedness] r presbyopia, and general conditions relating to aging eyes.

Eye Lens Gel Replacement

Eye Lens Gel Replacement - a new treatment developed by Dr. Arthur Ho of the University of New South Wales, Australia. A soft polymer gel is injected into the cavity that contains the natural lens. This is designed to replace the natural lens to correct presbyopia and other vision problems. The product is expected to be commercially available in 2008.

Initial tests found the gel lens implant has about four times the power of standard reading glasses.

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