Presbyopia is part of the natural aging process of the eye and can be easily corrected. Technically, presbyopia is the loss of the eye’s ability to change its focus to see nearby objects. It is not a disease. It’s as natural as wrinkles, and it affects everybody at some point in life. Presbyopia generally starts to appear around age 45.
Presbyopia is often confused with farsightedness, but the two are different. Presbyopia occurs when the eye’s lens loses flexibility. Farsightedness occurs due to the shape of the eyeball, which causes light rays to bend incorrectly once they have entered the eye.
Symptoms of Presbyopia
Symptoms of presbyopia include:
- Blurred vision at a normal reading distance
- The need to hold reading material at arm’s length
- Headaches from doing close work
An eye doctor can diagnose presbyopia by performing a thorough eye exam.
Presbyopia cannot be cured. Instead, prescription glasses, contact lenses, reading glasses, progressive addition lenses, or bifocals can help correct presbyopia. Bifocals are often prescribed for presbyopia. Bifocals are eyeglasses that have two different prescriptions in one spectacle lens. The central part of the lens contains a prescription for nearsightedness or farsightedness. In contrast, the lower portion of the lens holds a stronger prescription to help a person see objects up-close. Progressive addition lenses are similar to bifocals but have a more gradual transition between the two prescriptions.
Contact lenses used to treat presbyopia include multifocal lenses, soft or gas permeable versions, and monovision lenses. One eye wears a lens that aids in seeing objects at a distance, while the other has a lens that aids in near vision.
Laser surgery to reverse presbyopia is currently being used in Canada and Mexico. However, it is still being investigated in the U.S. It has not yet been approved by the FDA to treat presbyopia.
The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a surgical procedure called conductive keratoplasty to treat presbyopia. Instead of lasers, conductive keratoplasty uses radio waves. The physician uses a small instrument to apply the radio waves to the eye (usually just one eye) to reshape the cornea and improve the patient’s vision of nearby objects.