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Everything you need to know about presbyopia

Presbyopia occurs when your eye begins to lose its ability to focus on close objects. By definition, presbyopia is one of the most common of all eye conditions. In fact, it affects 100% of the population aged 50 or above.

What causes presbyopia?

Presbyopia is a vision disorder that occurs naturally with age. In young, healthy eyes, the lens is flexible and able to easily change shape in order to quickly focus on objects at varying distances.

Due to the slow hardening of the lens, the eye becomes less effective at focusing light on to the retina. The muscle fibres that surround the lens are also affected by aging, further decreasing its ability to focus on nearby objects. 

Because the lens is unable to focus correctly on near objects, the light is projected beyond the correct position on the retina. This results in blurry vision ranging from mild to severe depending on the individual.

Presbyopia diagnosis

Most people start to become at risk of developing presbyopia from around the age of 35. By 50, everyone will develop presbyopia in some form.

Common symptoms of presbyopia include:

  • Difficulty reading close-up text
  • Near objects appearing blurry
  • Eye strain
  • Headaches and/or fatigue

If you are over the age of 35 and are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, then you may be developing presbyopia. Make an appointment with your optician, who will be able to discuss treatment and vision correction options with you.

Presbyopia treatment

Eye test chartThere is no cure for presbyopia. Instead, the condition is commonly treated with vision correcting contact lenses or glasses. 

For contact lens wearers, multifocal lenses are the most common prescription for presbyopia sufferers. One lens allows the wearer to focus on nearby objects, the other corrects far objects.

Bifocals are the most common spectacle lenses prescribed for presbyopia. These are lenses with more than one prescription within the same lens. The upper part corrects your distance vision, while the lower part helps to bring close objects into focus. Progressive addition lenses work in a similar way, with a gradual transition between the two types of prescription.

There are also surgical options available to treat presbyopia. LASIK advanced vision correction surgery is one such option.

Multifocal LASIK (also known as presbyLASIK) is an advanced laser vision correction surgery that changes the physical shape of your cornea, creating different power zones to allow focusing on objects at different distances. 

Another surgical option is conductive keratoplasty (CK). This uses radio waves instead of the lasers involved in LASIK. CK has become less commonly utilised in recent years, as it was discovered that the treatment tended to only be effective in the short-term.