Have you tried reading a book at close range and the words appeared blurred, only to push it further back and be able to see more clearly?
This is the most notable sign of presbyopia, an eye medical condition, derived from the Greek word used to refer to an ‘old eye’, as the condition is associated with aging.
What Causes Presbyopia?
As you grow old, your body tissues tend to lose their elasticity, which is a normal occurrence. You may start developing wrinkles as a result of your skin becoming less elastic. The lenses in your eyes also lose their elasticity with time, hence, they lose their ability to flatten and thicken, and thus cannot change focus for varied distances.
This is a gradual process, which happens long before you start experiencing vision difficulties. You become aware that there is a problem when the loss of elasticity in your eye lens starts impairing your vision to a certain degree.
According to recent studies conducted by eye practitioners, presbyopia develops when your eye lens keeps growing, as you age. Your ligaments become relaxed, and limit the eye muscles’ ability to work well. It is worth noting that these recent findings seem to contradict the traditional view that it is aging that causes your eye muscles to become weak, and the eye lens less flexible.
How Does The Loss Of Elasticity Affect Sight?
Your crystalline lens plays a pivotal role in focusing light on your retina. When you are young, your eye lens is very flexible, and thus, can change shape and accommodate far and close by objects by flattening to allow for focusing of light rays entering your eye.
The scenario is different as you grow older, as the lens becomes stiff and cannot change its shape as easily. It loses its ability to focus on close up objects with ease or to adjust quickly to changes in focusing on objects in your line of view.
Anyone can be affected by presbyopia, as the flexibility of the eye lens starts reducing as we age. Aging being a natural process in life, makes prevention of presbyopia quite difficult.
How Is It Diagnosed And Treated?
Your optometrist will require information pertaining to your general health, and specific symptoms you may be experiencing to make a proper diagnosis. This evaluation is done during a comprehensive eye examination.
Presbyopia is treated by wearing prescription eye glasses, to help your eyes focus when handling close up tasks such as reading. They work by refracting light rays more effectively, than your retina.
In case of other additional refractive errors such as nearsightedness, your optometrist will recommend wearing progressive additional lenses, commonly known as bifocal. If you do not have any other vision problems, you will only be required to use your glasses when performing close up tasks only.
Can I Still Wear Contact Lenses?
Yes! You can still wear contact lenses, even with presbyopia. Your optometrist will recommend three contact lens options for you; normal distance lenses, bifocal and monovision. You will be asked a series of questions regarding your lifestyle and daily activities to see which contact lens option will work best for you.
Keep in mind that since presbyopia happens gradually as you grow old, there is need to visit your doctor regularly for additional eye examinations, to determine whether your prescription needs to be updated.