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Taking a Closer Look at Presbyopia

man wearing glassesAs  you approach middle age, you may start to experience difficulty with reading. (Being able to see clearly is an age related function of your vision which becomes weaker as you become older.)  Why? Because with age, the lens of your eye becomes increasingly inflexible, making it harder to focus on near objects. This is called presbyopia. (And it happens to everyone.)

To avoid eyestrain, people with untreated presbyopia tend to hold books, magazines, newspapers, and menus at arm's length in order to focus properly. Performing other tasks at close range, such as embroidery or handwriting could also cause headaches, eye strain or fatigue in individuals who have developed this condition. When it comes to correcting presbyopia there are a number of options available whether you wear eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Reading glasses are only worn when you need to focus on handheld tasks, which can be good for those who already wear contacts or for people who don’t wear glasses for correcting distance vision. Although reading glasses are readily available at pharmacies or drugstores, it is not recommended to buy a pair until you have had a full vision examination.Too often "over-the-counter" reading glasses are helpful for short periods of reading but can cause eyestrain with prolonged use.   Custom made readers are often a better solution because many people have eye prescriptions that are different between the two eyes, or have astigmatism.  Also the optic centres of the lenses are custom sized to the person who wears them, and the reading distance is set to where a person wants it.   If you don’t want to switch back and forth between pairs of glasses, consider bifocal or multi- focal corrective lenses, or the popular progressive addition lenses (PALs). These are eyeglasses that have separate points of focus; the bottom portion has the prescription for focusing at close range. 

If you wear contacts, speak to us about multifocal contact lenses or a treatment approach called monovision, where one eye wears a lens for distance vision and one eye wears a lens for close vision.   Presbyopia affects people even after refractive surgery, so it is good to understand all the options before making a decision on vision care.  Ask your eye doctor for an unbiased opinion.

Your lens continues to change as you grow older, so expect your prescription to be increased over time. Speak to your eye doctor about dealing with presbyopia in the way that meets your specific needs.