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Presbyopia: Managing the Inevitable

As you approach your 40s, you might start to notice that you have some trouble with reading. Why does this happen? With age, your eye’s lens grows more rigid, which makes it more difficult to focus on near objects. The clinical term for this is presbyopia. And it’s universal.

Often, to avoid eyestrain, people with untreated presbyopia tend to hold books, magazines, newspapers, and menus at arm’s length to be able to focus properly. Additionally, engaging in other close-range activities, like sewing or handwriting, may also lead to eyestrain and discomfort. If you want to deal with presbyopia, you have several alternatives, which take your eyewear preferences into account.

Reading glasses are helpful but are generally most useful for contact lens wearers or for people who don’t already need glasses for issues with distance vision. These are readily available, but you shouldn’t get them until you have spoken with your optometrist. Those simple reading glasses may help for short periods of reading but they can result in fatigue when people wear them for a long time. Actually, custom-made reading glasses are a far better solution. They are able to correct astigmatism, accommodate prescriptions which are not the same in both eyes, and on top of that, the optic centers of the lenses can be adjusted to fit the wearer. The reading distance is another detail that can be made to match your exact needs.

And if you’re already wearing glasses to address problems with near sightedness, and would rather not have to keep track of multiple pairs, consider bifocal or multi-focal corrective lenses, or PALs (progressive addition lenses), which are very popular. PALs and multi-focals are glasses that have more than one point of focus; the lower portion has the prescription for seeing text and tasks at close distances. If you already wear contacts, it’s recommended to talk to your optometrist about multifocal contact lenses, or a treatment approach which is called monovision. Monovision is when you wear a contact lens to correct near sightedness in one eye and another to correct far sightedness in the other eye.

Expect to periodically adjust the strength of your lenses, because eyes slowly change as you get older, especially after middle age. Presbyopia could be a problem for older individuals even after refractive surgery, so it is important to understand all the options before making decisions about your vision care.

It’s best to speak to your eye care professional for an unbiased opinion. Vision goes through changes as you get older and we think it’s important that you manage your vision in the way that’s best for you.