Presbyopia is long-sightedness caused by loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye, occurring usually in middle and old age. In Chinese, it is called ‘lao hua yan’. Your eyes slowly lose the ability to see things clearly up close. Many people start to notice they have presbyopia after age 40. A tell-tale sign is the need to hold reading materials farther away in order to see them clearly. In fact, ‘presbyopia’ is the Greek word for ‘old eye’. However, do not worry, because it is a normal part of aging.
You have a clear lens located inside the eye behind your iris. It helps you see by changing shape to focus light onto the retina. Young people have soft and flexible lens that change shape easily. This lets them focus their vision on things that are both near and far away effortlessly. After age 40, the lens becomes more rigid, unable to change shape as easily as they used to. As a result, tasks that used to be easy become harder, such as reading, threading a needle, etc. Presbyopia should not be confused with farsightedness. Although the two have similarities, their causes are very different. In a nutshell, farsightedness is a refractive error. People who have farsightedness cannot see both distant and near objects clearly. Farsightedness can happen at any age, but presbyopia only happens after 40.
Presbyopia cannot be reversed, as it is part of the aging process. Nonetheless, the condition can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery. If you do not correct presbyopia, you may experience eye strain and headaches.
Correction of Presbyopia
People who are not keen on surgical procedures can opt for eyeglasses, such as bifocal glasses, progressive glasses and reading glasses. Bifocal eyeglasses have a distance vision prescription at the top part of the lens and a near vision prescription at the lower section of the lens.Progressive eyeglasses provide something similar, but with a smooth progression of power between the top and bottom for viewing intermediate distances. Meanwhile, reading glasses are suitable for people who spend a lot of time focusing on close-up material.
2. Contact Lenses
Multifocal contact lenses with variations in power can be used to correct near, intermediate and far vision. However, for correction of presbyopia, monovision lenses can be used. One eye wears a near visionlens and the other eye wears a distance vision lens.
Laser correction for presbyopia is a form of laser vision correction surgery that changes the shape of the eye’s cornea to create different power zones for seeing at different distances.
For now, LASIK can provide a monovision treatment for distance and correction for some near tasks. The procedure will correct your dominant eye for distance vision and your non-dominant eye with some near vision ability. Before undergoing LASIK, you can do a contact lens trial to find out if monovision would be suitable for you. However, please bear in mind that LASIK cannot prevent the natural aging process of the lens.