What is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia is also known as age-related farsightedness. When a person is farsighted, anything close to them is blurry but far away things appear clear. After age 40, the lens and muscles around the lens in the eye loses the flexibility it had, causing presbyopia. There is no way known to prevent presbyopia. Like gray hair and wrinkles, everyone after age 40 gets presbyopia.

People with myopia or nearsightedness since childhood may discover that the combination of myopia and presbyopia improves their vision. However, most people do need some sort of vision correction in order to see well enough to perform daily tasks.

What are the Symptoms of Presbyopia?

Common symptoms of presbyopia include headaches caused by eyestrain; having to hold reading material at arm’s length in order to read; more and more difficulty reading small print or performing tasks like embroidery which require hand-eye coordination.

Although this is not a lethal condition, presbyopia should not be ignored because it does not go away on its own but often gets worse over time. Farsighted people are prone to accidents which could injure themselves badly.

Presbyopia Causes

Presbyopia emanates from a problem with the lens of the eye located behind the iris and pupil. Together with the cornea, the lens refracts light focusing it on the retina.

Young individuals have a relatively flexible and elastic eye lens. The lens can change in length and shape with the help of muscles surrounding it. This reshaping of the lens helps a person focus on close and distant objects with ease.

Presbyopia is caused when the lens of the eye hardens. This loss of flexibility and stiffness is mainly age related. Subsequently, the lens fails to constrict and reshape to focus on close images. As a result, close images appear out of focus.

How is Presbyopia Treated?

The good news is that presbyopia is often easily treated with eyeglasses or contact lenses. It is highly recommended to get an eye exam in order to make sure there are no other complications to vision other than presbyopia. People over 40 should get an eye exam every year for many reasons such as to get glaucoma tests and to make sure the presbyopia has not worsened. If it has worsened, new prescriptions for glasses or contact lenses will be needed.

Surgery is usually not necessary to treat presbyopia. However, many people choose to have eye surgery in order to avoid wearing glasses or contact lenses. Types of eye surgeries that have helped treat presbyopia include LASIK (laser assisted eye surgery) or conductive keratoplasty (CK.) Surgery is not a permanent solution as eyesight eventually reverts back to farsightedness.

One radical surgery called a refractive lens exchange has a good success rate but is not without risks. The surgery removed the eye’s lenses and replaced them with artificial lenses.

Presbyopia Prevention

Since presbyopia occurs naturally with age, there are no known ways of preventing it. This is a degenerative disorder that affects almost everyone including those that have never had any eye problems. However, there a few approaches to protecting the eyes to help slow down its development.

  • Use proper lighting while working or any lenses that will reduce eye strain.
  • Avoid using the short-distance approach or at least avoid prolonged instances of near work. It is advisable to take short breaks when performing tasks that require looking at something at close range such as reading or working on a computer.
  • Maintain a healthy diet consisting of natural foods with Vitamins A, B, C, as well as minerals like calcium and zinc, while avoiding toxins found in tobacco and alcohol. A good diet eliminates free radicals, which are one of the leading causes of eye problems.
  • People with issues likely to result in other conditions such as cataracts should carefully monitor their eye health.
  • Wearing hats or sunglasses while outdoors.
  • Schedule for regular eye and vision checks.
  • Eye exercises can also help prevent the occurrence of the condition.
Last Reviewed:
October 09, 2016
Last Updated:
January 11, 2018