Presbyopia is a result of the eye ageing. This visual defect is common in those above the age of 40.
If you have been finding it increasingly difficult to read close-up since you reached the age of 40, it is highly likely that you are suffering from presbyopia, a condition experienced by the majority of the population.
This refractive error results in loss of ability to focus on close-up objects due to a progressive decrease in the flexibility or elasticity of the lens, which becomes more rigid with age.
Presbyopia can occur in anyone, even people with excellent long-distance vision or those already suffering from other vision problems like astigmatism, myopia or even hyperopia.
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Symptoms and treatment
It is easy to recognise the symptoms of presbyopia as they are often related to the ability to focus and concentrate on close-up objects. For example, an individual with presbyopia is likely to move their phone or tablet further away when looking at it, to require more light when reading, and to find reading easier if the font is larger.
Once diagnosed, patients have three options for correcting this visual defect: glasses (reading glasses, either bifocal or varifocal), special contact lenses or refractive surgery. Although contact lenses do provide wearers with more freedom to perform activities than glasses, they also involve a demanding daily routine and strict hygiene in order to avoid any damage to the eye. Not to mention the fact that certain individuals do not tolerate contact lenses very well.
Of all these options, only one can banish all of the constraints associated with wearing and looking after glasses or contact lenses: refractive surgery.
Treatment involves conducting a thorough preliminary examination in order to determine whether a potential patient is eligible for surgery based on certain anatomical criteria in connection with the eye. The laser surgery procedure LBV (which stands for Laser Blended Vision) is recommended for correcting presbyopia. It involves applying the principle of monovision (correcting the two eyes differently by improving primarily long-distance vision in the dominant eye, and primarily short-distance vision in the non-dominant eye), as well as increasing the depth of field in both eyes. The additional step of increasing depth of field makes it possible to reduce the difference between the two eyes. This results in micro-monovision instead of monovision, which significantly improves mid-distance vision compared to traditional monovision.
This technique allows the eyes to overlay the two sets of information which, once merged, create a new, clearer image of both close-up and distant objects.
Your questions about presbyopia
When does presbyopia start developing?
All people start showing signs of presbyopia around the age of 40–45, which is when the performance of our lenses starts to decline. Our focussing power diminishes due to a loss of elasticity caused by the ageing process. However, presbyopia does stabilise after the age of 60.
Is presbyopia preventable?
No. This vision problem is a result of the natural ageing of the lens. As such, we cannot prevent or slow down presbyopia; we can only correct it.
At what point is it possible to operate to correct presbyopia?
Operations to correct presbyopia are intended both for individuals above the age of 40 who are having difficulty reading and for those with more advanced presbyopia who are unable to read at all without glasses. The procedure allows the patient to forgo glasses entirely, or at least to only need them on rare occasions.
Myopia is the most common refractive issue. It is caused by the eye being too long and/or the cornea being too curved. It results in distance vision becoming blurry.
Hyperopia is caused by the eye being too short and/or the cornea being too flat. This means additional focussing power is required in order to see clearly, which is referred to as accommodation. People with hyperopia have better distance vision than near vision.
Astigmatism is an error in the curve of the cornea. Instead of being spherical, the cornea is oval instead. People with astigmatism have poor distance and near vision.