What is Presbyopia and How is It Treated?

Noticed that the daily newspaper is more difficult to read lately? You may be developing presbyopia, an age-related vision problem that nearly everyone experiences after they reach the age of 45. 

Presbyopia is a normal part of aging. As we age, our eye’s natural lens loses some of its natural flexibility. This makes it more difficult for your eye to switch focus from distant to nearby objects.

Always inform your eye doctor of any changes in your vision or newly developed vision problems. It’s possible that your symptoms may be indicative of a more serious eye condition requiring treatment. 

This article explores who develops presbyopia, what causes it and what you can do about it.

The Symptoms and Cause of Presbyopia

Presbyopia comes from the Greek term "old eye" and is caused by the natural aging of your eye. Everyone develops some degree of presbyopia as they get older, but some struggle with it more than others. The condition’s effect on your vision varies case by case. 

The lens of your eye should be flexible so it can change shape to focus on objects that are near or far. Those with presbyopia have a natural lens that’s more rigid, which makes it difficult for their eyes to adjust focus. 

In addition to difficulty seeing objects up close, people with presbyopia may suffer from eye strain and frequent headaches.

This condition will worsen overtime, especially if you’re over the age of 45. Vision changes from presbyopia tend to slow down after age 65.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Presbyopia

Over-the-Counter Reading Glasses

A pair of over-the-counter reading glasses can be perfect for managing minor symptoms of presbyopia. Before purchasing a pair of reading glasses, talk with your eye doctor to determine the correct vision strength.

Bifocal or Trifocal Lenses

If you have a refractive error, such as nearsightedness, reading glasses are a great temporary solution. Unless you invest in bifocal or trifocal lenses, you’ll have to keep switching between your glasses. 

Bifocals are lenses that are clearly separated by two optical powers. The bottom portion of the lens is for seeing closeup, while the top of the lens is for distance vision. Trifocals take this a step further and offer three optical powers for near, middle-distance, and far vision. 

Your eye doctor may be able to offer you offer prescription bifocal or trifocal lenses. These prescriptions can either be in glasses or contact lenses, enabling you to choose the option that best suits your preferences. 

Monovision Contact Lenses

Monovision contact lenses offer different prescriptions in each eye. One eye will be focused on improving your distance vision, with the other prescription lens perfect for closeup. Monovision contacts can take a little to get used to but will reduce the effects of presbyopia. 

Progressive Lenses

Both trifocal and bifocal have a noticeable transition line between each optical power, which can obstruct your vision. If you find you’re unable to become accustomed to bifocal or trifocal glasses, your doctor may suggest progressive lenses. Progressive lenses have a seamless transition between each optical power. 

This lens is commonly referred to as multifocal contacts when used as a contact lens rather than a glasses prescription. 

Prescription Pilocarpine Eye Drops

Pilocarpine drops are a long-term treatment option for glaucoma. There has recently been a new development what pilocarpine drops can treat: presbyopia. 

These eye drops work by changing the size of the pupil, which can improve your near vision. Pilocarpine drops are not without side effects, as many people complain of a dull headache associated with these eye drops.

Surgical Options for Treating Presbyopia

Refractive Surgery

Some doctors recommend refractive surgery as a surgical option for treating presbyopia. During refractive surgery, your eye doctor will use a laser to correct each eye for near or far vision. Like monovision contact lenses, this procedure will allow you to see with monovision. This means one eye will be reshaped for near vision and one eye will be reshaped for seeing at a distance. 

This procedure is often recommended if you’ve had success with monovision contact lenses. 

Corneal Inlay Implants

A corneal inlay is a small device that’s implanted into the cornea, which is the outer layer of your eye. This procedure is minimally invasive and will restore your up-close vision. 

Cataract Surgery

Improve Your Vision with These Tips

As you can see, there are many medical ways to treat presbyopia. But what are some ways we can decrease your symptoms until you can get treatment? 

Here are some tips from eyecarecenter:

  • Try to use more lighting when reading

  • Purchase large-print books

  • Hold reading materials at a distance

  • Increase the size of the font on your phone 

These options may only work for those with moderate presbyopia symptoms. 

Seek Medical Care If You’re Experiencing These Symptoms

Are you experiencing more than just blurred vision? Keep an eye out for these symptoms as they could be a sign of a more serious eye condition: 

  • Severe pain in one or both eyes

  • Any fluctuations in the clarity of your vision

  • Floaters or flashes

  • Loss of peripheral vision

  • Noticeable lines or distortions in your field of vision

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Schedule An Eye Exam with eyecarecenter

Although presbyopia is a normal part of the aging process, treatment and diagnosis is still required. Find an eyecarecenter location near you to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Our skilled team of eye doctors will work alongside you to diagnose and determine the best treatment plan.