Presbyopia is the normal loss of near focusing ability that occurs with age. Most people begin to notice the effects of presbyopia sometime after age 40, when they start having trouble seeing small print clearly — including text messages on their phone.
You can’t escape presbyopia, even if you’ve never had a vision problem before. Even people who are nearsighted will notice that their near vision blurs when they wear their usual eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct distance vision.
Presbyopia is an age-related process. It is a gradual thickening and loss of flexibility of the natural lens inside your eye.
These age-related changes occur within the proteins in the lens, making the lens harder and less elastic over time. Age-related changes also take place in the muscle fibers surrounding the lens. With less elasticity, it gets difficult for the eyes to focus on close objects.
If presbyopia is your only vision problem
(you do not have nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism), glasses may be all you need.
If you already wear eyeglasses for other vision problems, now you might need bifocals, trifocals, or progressive lenses.
Some people prefer to wear contact lenses rather than eyeglasses. There are two types of contact lenses that help presbyopia:
Refractive surgery. Some people decide to have surgery to achieve monovision. This can reduce their need for glasses for near and far objects. Using a laser, an ophthalmologist reshapes the cornea for clear far vision in one eye and close-up vision in the other. In many ways, this is like wearing monovision contact lenses.
Corneal inlays. There are also newer, tiny devices called corneal inlays, which help correct presbyopia. These are implanted in the cornea, at the front of the eye, during a minimally invasive surgical procedure, restoring close-up vision.
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.
You can’t prevent presbyopia. You can help protect your eyes and your vision by following these tips: