Definition

What is presbyopia?

Presbyopia is a condition occurs when the gradual loss of your eyes’ ability to focus on nearby objects. It’s a natural, often annoying part of aging. Presbyopia usually becomes noticeable in your early to mid-40s and continues to worsen until around age 65.

You may become aware of presbyopia when you start holding books and newspapers at arm’s length to be able to read them. A basic eye exam can confirm presbyopia. You can correct the condition with eyeglasses or contact lenses. You might also consider surgery.

How common is presbyopia?

Anyone over the age of 35 is at risk for developing presbyopia and all people become affected to some degree.

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of presbyopia?

Presbyopia develops gradually not immediately. You may first notice these signs and symptoms after age 40:

  • A tendency to hold reading material farther away to make the letters clearer
  • Blurred vision at normal reading distance
  • Eyestrain or headaches after reading or doing close work

You may notice these symptoms are worse if you are tired, drank alcohol or are in an area with dim lighting.

When should I see my doctor?

See an eye doctor if blurry close-up vision is keeping you from reading, doing close work or enjoying other normal activities. He or she can determine whether you have presbyopia and advise you of your options.

Seek immediate medical care if you:

  • Have a sudden loss of vision in one eye
  • Experience sudden hazy or blurred vision
  • See flashes of light, black spots, or halos around lights

Causes

What causes presbyopia?

In order to form an image, your eye relies on the cornea, the clear, dome-shaped front surface of your eye, and the lens, a clear structure, to focus the light reflected from objects. Both of these structures bend (refract) light entering your eye to focus the image on the retina, located on the inside back wall of your eye.

The lens, unlike the cornea, is somewhat flexible and can change shape with the help of a circular muscle that surrounds it. When you look at something at a distance, the circular muscle relaxes. When you look at something nearby, the muscle constricts, allowing the relatively elastic lens to curve and change its focusing power.

Presbyopia is caused by a hardening of the lens of your eye, which occurs with aging. As your lens becomes less flexible, it can no longer change shape to focus on close-up images. As a result, these images appear out of focus.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for presbyopia?

You may have higher risks for this condition if you are experiencing these following conditions:

Age

Age is the greatest risk factor for presbyopia. Almost everyone experiences some degree of presbyopia after age 40.

Other medical conditions

Being farsighted or having certain diseases — such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis or cardiovascular diseases — can increase your risk of premature presbyopia, which is presbyopia in people younger than 40.

Drugs

Certain drugs are associated with premature presbyopic symptoms, including antidepressants, antihistamines and diuretics.

 

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is presbyopia diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, an eye examination will be performed. A complete eye exam involves a series of tests. Your eye doctor likely will put drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils. This may make your eyes more light sensitive for a few hours after the exam. Dilation enables your doctor to more easily evaluate the inside of your eyes.

Your doctor may use various instruments, aim bright lights at your eyes and ask you to look through several lenses to test your distance and close-up vision. Each test allows your doctor to evaluate a different aspect of your vision.

You may need more-frequent exams if you have risk factors for eye disease or you need glasses or contact lenses.

How is presbyopia treated?

There are some several treatment options that your doctor may recommend:

Eyeglasses

Eyeglasses are a simple, safe way to correct vision problems caused by presbyopia.

Contact lenses

People who don’t want to wear eyeglasses often try contact lenses to improve their vision problems caused by presbyopia. This option may not work for you if you have certain conditions related to your eyelids, tear ducts or the surfaces of your eyes.

 

Refractive surgery

Refractive surgery changes the shape of your cornea. For presbyopia, this treatment is used to improve close-up vision in your nondominant eye. It’s like wearing monovision contact lenses. Even after surgery, you may need to use eyeglasses for close-up work.

Lens implants

Some ophthalmologists use a procedure in which they remove the lens in each eye and replace it with a synthetic lens. This is called an intraocular lens implant. Some people choose this procedure even after having had lasik surgery many years before to be free from glasses.

 

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage presbyopia?

Follow these useful tips can help you to prevent presbyopia:

Genetics

The Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) database has listed 261 genetic disorders in which myopia is one of the symptoms. Myopia may be present in heritable connective tissue disorders such as: Knobloch syndrome; Marfan syndrome; and Stickler syndrome.

Environmental

In studies of the genetic predisposition of refractive error, there is a correlation between environmental factors and the risk of developing myopia.

Sources

Review Date: July 11, 2017 | Last Modified: July 11, 2017

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