Does your near vision seem a little worse than it used to be? Do you find yourself holding reading material a bit further away than you remember needing to in the past? You’re likely struggling with presbyopia – the gradual loss of your eyes’ ability to focus on nearby objects.
This natural consequence of aging begins in your early forties and continues to progress until about age sixty-five when it plateaus. So what causes it? It all has to do with the lens of your eye. The lens helps to focus light onto your retina so you can see clearly. The lens of your eye starts off as a clear, soft, flexible structure that can easily change shape allowing you to focus on objects both up close and far away. After age forty the lens becomes more rigid and cannot change shape as easily resulting in more difficulty with near vision.
There is currently no way to prevent or reverse this natural part of aging, but the symptoms can be treated with eyeglasses, contacts, and surgery.
- Reading Glasses. Glasses strictly for near work are one solution. Some lucky people can get away with the over the counter reading glasses you see at the drugstore. Try this if you’ve never worn glasses before and your only issue now is blurriness up close. They also might work for you if you’re a contact lens wearer who’s still seeing well far away, but near is starting to become a problem through your contacts. Try the over the counter cheaters on top of your contact lenses. If you do not fall into one of these two categories or you’ve tried over the counter glasses and they’re not working for you you probably need a pair of custom made reading glasses, which your optometrist can easily help you with.
- Bifocals or Progressive Glasses. Bifocals are glasses that have multiple prescriptions in them. Unlike reading glasses which can be worn only for near and must be removed to see in the distance, bifocals you can keep on all the time. Bifocals without a visible line are called progressive glasses and have the added benefit of not only distance and near vision, but also an intermediate section which is good for that computer/dashboard distance.
- Contacts. You’ve got a couple of different options if you want to use contacts to address that blurriness up close. The first option is monovision contact lenses. In this modality one eye is corrected to see best at distance, the other eye to see best at near. With both eyes open you see well at both distances. The second option is a multifocal contact lens. Multifocals have both distance and near prescription in both eyes and give you good vision at both distances. The key word here in both scenarios is good, not great. Fitting both distance and near prescription into a contact lens is not as easy as it is in glasses, so vision out of glasses is usually superior to vision out of contacts when we’re talking needing to address both distance and near vision, but hey, it’s a trade off to not have to wear glasses.
- Surgery. Surgery is another option to consider and the specifics should be discussed with your optometrist.
In the near future there will be a potentially revolutionary option to treat presbyopia: an eye drop. A drop that is currently in phase 3 studies will soon be another option to deal with up close blurriness.
Deciding which option is right for you will depend on your preferences and lifestyle. There’s no one size fits all choice and many people rely on a combination of options. Our doctors at Columbia Eye Consultants Optometry can help you weigh the pros and cons of each option and come up with a custom made solution for you.