What is presbyopia?
Presbyopia is a condition which affects everyone at some point in their life, though usually after the age of 40. The lens in your eye stiffens with age, and thus it is less able to focus when viewing close objects. The extra effort necessary to compensate often results in headaches, fatigue, and eyestrain.
How is presbyopia different from other refractive errors?
Refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are caused by irregularities in the shape of the eyeball. Presbyopia results from the natural aging process. You will develop this to some degree even if you have had perfect vision your whole life.
Is there any way to avoid presbyopia?
No. Aging causes the proteins in the lens and the muscle fibers surrounding the lens to become less elastic. Maintaining good general health may postpone the onset of presbyopia to some extent. However, there is no way to avoid it altogether.
What treatments are available?
Bifocal, progressive addition lenses (PALs), and traditional glasses are the most common treatments. Bifocals and PALs are worn throughout the day, while reading glasses may be worn as needed. If you already wear contact lenses, then your eye doctor can prescribe reading glasses for you to wear while your contacts are in. Multifocal contact lenses are another option. Some patients opt for monovision with one eye wearing a prescription for distance and the other eye wearing a near vision prescription.
Crystalens®, Tecnis® multifocal and ReSTOR® multifocal lenses are also an option for correcting presbyopia. For patients not yet eligible for cataract surgery, presbyopia correcting intraocular lenses may be the solution. These lenses replace the eye’s natural lens. Once implanted, they are permanent and there is no need for cataract surgery in the future. If you have noticed the effects of presbyopia, are wearing reading glasses or bifocals/trifocals, you can ask your eye doctor about these choices.