Presbyopia - What It Is And How To Treat It (also known as "Old Age Vision")
Presbyopia... A Sign of Aging?
Defined as - The gradual loss of ability to have clear focus for near vision. This arrises from the loss of elasticity of the crystalline lens.
As we get older our vision declines. It is a fact of life. Presbyopia is a common condition that often results from aging. For others presbyopia may result from working too many hours at the computer or from reading and engaging in other tasks require near vision.
Millions and millions of people develop presbyopia as they age. For many it doesn't begin until they near their 40s. For others their condition appears earlier and simply worsens with time.
Signs and Symptoms of Presbyopia
I am one of the lucky few diagnosed with presbyopia early in life. That means as I age I am likely to become even blinder with time (it's not that bad really...). How do you know if you have presbyopia? If you find you are one of those people that needs to hold a book or other reading material at arm's length or more to focus clearly, you may have presbyopia.
Typically people with this condition find they have a hard time focusing when looking at things closely or when engaging in work that requires a close eye. Typical symptoms include headaches and eyestrain or increasing fatigue, particularly when reading or using the computer many hours during the day.
Presbyopia is an age related process and is not the same as farsightedness. Farsightedness or hyperopia results from genetic factors and involves the shape of your eyeball. Typically farsightedness is caused when your eye is too short and light rays aren't able to focus correctly. People with hyperopia can see things far away clearly but may have trouble seeing things close up.
Presbyopia often results as you loose flexibility within the lens of your eye. Many doctors believe this occurs with aging as proteins within the lens of your eye change with time. This can reduce the elasticity of your eye making it harder to focus on things close up.
Treatment for Presbyopia
The best treatment for presbyopia is simply wearing corrective lenses. Many doctors recommend using bifocal or progressive lenses. These help address two points of focus. Bifocal lenses help address nearsightedness and farsightedness, so the user can focus on near and far objects equally well.
Progressive lenses like bifocal lenses allow a gradual transition between near and far objects so a distinct line is not present within the prescription.
For others reading glasses offer a better choice, particularly if the patient read frequently or needs to look at a computer. Reading glasses are used only when the patient engage in close work. You don't even need a prescription for them in many cases however, you can just purchase them over the counter at your local pharmacy.
Contact Lenses for Presbyopia
There are contact lens options for patients with presbyopia. You can get multifocal contact lenses in soft lens or gas permeable materials. You will need to visit your eye care professional to get a correct prescription and fitted for contact lenses if you decide on this option.
Yet another choice for patients with presbyopia is monovision lenses. These lenses allow you to wear a corrective lenses for distance in one eye and near vision in the other eye. This may take some getting used to but works well for many people. Most people will need an increasing prescription with time as their vision continues to deteriorate with age.
LASIK Surgery for Presbyopia?
There have been recent technological innovations for patients with presbyopia. These include a procedure called keratoplasty, which uses radio waves to help improve the curvature of the cornea.
This procedure may also help improve mild farsightedness in patients. New treatments are currently being researched including use of a new polymer gel that may help provide more elasticity within the cornea.
LASIK surgery is usually used to treat nearsightedness or farsightedness than it is to treat presbyopia. Even patients who have LASIK done may need to treat presbyopia as they age.
There are other surgeries however that may help reduce the severity of presbyopia in patients. Be sure you consult with your eye care professional to discuss your overall health and well being and any new surgical innovations that may help address your vision as you age.
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