Presbyopia is the thickening and loss of flexibility of the lens to change shape in order for a person to focus over a wide range of near and far vision.
It is a normal age-related process which affects everyone. The symptoms of presbyopia usually become noticeable in the early to mid-40s and continue to worsen until around age 60.
Early signs of Presbyopia
- Difficulty seeing fine objects or small print
- Headaches, tired or sore eyes when reading
- The need to hold reading material further away
- The need to increase lighting for close work
Solutions for Presbyopia
Near-vision spectacle lenses. Some people may buy these over the counter, and while this initially provides assistance, there are some issues. For example, most people do not have the same prescription in both eyes and so therefore a professional eye examination is necessary. If fitted with a single-vision lens, the vision will be great for close work, but beyond arm's reach the vision will be out of focus - which is why you see some people taking their glasses off to look at something further away, or peering over their specs. There are a couple of options available, which include having two separate pairs of prescription reading and distance glasses (which will mean changing the glasses depending on what you are doing), or alternatively you could order progressive (multifocal) lenses.
Progressive lenses (multifocal lenses). Progressive lenses have a graded change from top to bottom and give clear vision at any distance, though with a narrower field of view towards the bottom. This type of lens is a "Jack of all trades" in that it gets rid of needing a separate pair of glasses for distance and near. Due to the process of production in making this lens (with far vision at the top, and near vision at the bottom), there is some peripheral blur when looking out towards the sides. Therefore, it can sometimes take people a couple of weeks to adapt to using this type of lens.
Occupational progressive lenses. This type of lens is particularly good for people that have good distance vision but have developed presbyopia. These are primarily geared for computer work and reading. They are a special type of progressive lens, in which the top part of the lens focuses at approximately one metre (for computer work), and then the lens power increases at the bottom of the lens for desk work and reading. Due to modern day work life, these lenses are ideal for a lot of people because they avoid neck strain. The neck strain arises as a result of people leaning towards the computer screen to see with their near vision lenses, or craning their neck back when wearing progressive lenses.
Regular Examinations are Essential
Between the ages of 40-55 years vision changes rapidly and frequent lens changes may be required. Regular examinations are essential to ensure that your eyes are healthy and give you efficient and comfortable vision.
It is important that you don’t assume that changes in vision are simply a result of age – while this may be true, changes may also be due to a disease or condition that can lead to blindness. If in doubt, check it out!
Your optometrist is able to prescribe lenses for quite specific needs. Discuss your vision needs with your optometrist.