Presbyopia is a common condition in which the eyes gradually begin to lose their ability to focus clearly on near objects such as reading materials, cell phones, and computer screens. The change occurs as the crystalline lens within the eye loses its flexibility and hardens over time.
The eye is equipped internally with a lens (crystalline lens) that aids in focusing on the things we look at in our daily lives. This lens must change its shape to appropriately focus on objects at different distances. Think of a camera. If you focus the lens on someone who is three feet away, you must refocus the lens when trying to clearly view an object fifty feet away. Whether you realize it or not, your eye performs this task for you automatically!
Over time, the composition of the crystalline lens begins to change. The lens becomes less elastic, and the muscles responsible for changing the shape of the lens have a more difficult time in performing their task. Going back to the camera example...if you cannot focus the lens appropriately, a blurry picture will result. In regards to your eyes, the end result is blurry near vision. For a great summary of this watch the presbyopia video on the American Optometric Association's website.
So what can be done to combat this pesky condition? Lots! There are many options available that can help you regain clear near vision again. The first option is glasses. This option includes reading glasses, computer glasses, bifocals, trifocals, and no-line or progressive addition lenses. Another great option for many patients is contact lenses. Both multifocal contact lenses and monovision contact lenses can help you regain clear vision up close. Finally, new surgical options are arising which may become viable in the near future.
Your optometrist will evaluate your eyes and ask you questions about your lifestyle to determine which option fits you best. For answers to common questions about presbyopia check out AllAboutVision.com's Presbyopia FAQ.
Still have questions? Leave them in the comments below and we will be happy to answer them for you!
By Dr. Mike Rebarchik, optometrist, Sussex Eye Center