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Presbyopia: Managing the Inevitable

Often, around age 40, folks start to have a difficult time reading. Seeing things that are up close is an age related function of your vision which becomes weaker as you become older. Why? As time passes, your eye’s lens becomes more rigid, which makes it challenging to focus on near objects. The clinical term for this is presbyopia.

Those with undiagnosed presbyopia may hold books, magazines, newspapers, and menus at arm’s length in order to focus properly. In addition to reading, performing other tasks at close range, for example, crafts or handwriting, can also result in eyestrain and discomfort. When it comes to correcting presbyopia, you have a few solutions available, which take your eyewear preferences into account.

An oft-used solution is reading glasses, but these are generally most useful for those who wear contacts or for people who don’t wear glasses for correcting distance vision. Even though reading glasses are easy to find at pharmacies or drugstores, it’s advised not to get a pair before you have had a comprehensive eye examination. The reason for this is that reading glasses may help for quick periods of reading but they can eventually result in fatigue when people wear them for a long time. A better alternative to pharmacy reading glasses are custom made ones. These can also fix astigmatism, compensate for prescriptions which are not the same in both of your eyes, and furthermore, the optic centers of every lens can be customized to meet the needs of whoever is wearing them. The reading distance can be adjusted to meet the individual’s needs.

And if you’re already wearing eyeglasses for distance vision, and don’t want to switch between pairs of glasses, think about bifocal or multi-focal corrective lenses, or PALs (progressive addition lenses), which a lot of people find very beneficial. These are glasses that have more than one point of focus; the bottom section helps you see at close range. If you wear contact lenses, meet with us to discuss multifocal contact lenses, or a treatment approach which is called monovision, where each eye is fitted with a different kind of lens; one for distance vision and one for close vision.

It’s important to note that you’ll have to periodically adjust your prescriptions, because eyes change with age. Presbyopia still affects people even after refractive surgery, so it is it’s worthwhile to take the time to find out about all the options before making decisions about your vision care.

It’s best to speak to your eye doctor for a helpful perspective. Presbyopia is a part of aging, but the decisions you make regarding how to handle it is always up to you.