Presbyopia is much like hyperopia in the sense that it results in the inability to focus up close objects. However, presbyopia is a naturally occurring vision disorder with age. As such, it is often referred to as the aging eye condition.
It is possible to have presbyopia and another type of refractive error at the same time. In some cases, an individual may have a specific refractive error in one eye, and another in the other eye.
What is a Refractive Error?
Refraction refers to the bending of light as it passes through one object to another. In order to see clearly, light rays are bent by the cornea and the lens and then focused onto the retina. The retina converts the light into messages that are sent through the optic nerve to the brain.
With a refractive error, incoming light is not being focused directly on the retina. Refractive errors can cause the light to focus in front or behind it, and in some cases both. Common types of refractive errors are myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia.
How Does Presbyopia Occur?
As mentioned, presbyopia is a naturally occurring vision disorder that can develop with age. Over time, the lens begins to harden and the muscle fibers around the lens create difficulty with focusing on up-close objects. As a result, light is focused behind the retina causing poor vision for objects that are close.
Symptoms of Presbyopia
Common signs and symptoms of presbyopia include:
- Difficulty reading small print
- Holding reading material at arm’s distance
- Headaches, eye strain, and fatigue after close up work
The symptoms of presbyopia are much like that of hyperopia (farsightedness). With that being said, it is important to contact the optometrist after experiencing any symptoms to schedule your eye examination as soon as possible.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Presbyopia can be diagnosed during a comprehensive eye examination. the optometrist will be able to determine the source of your presbyopia, severity, as well as a recommended course of treatment.
Eyeglasses and contacts are the easiest and simplest ways to correct presbyopia. Bifocal or progressive addition lenses are used to correct presbyopia. The lenses contain two prescriptions for two points of focus: the upper half for distance vision, and the lower portion for close work.
Contact lenses are used to create monovision to correct your presbyopia. With monovision, one eye wears a prescription for distance, and the other wears one for near vision. Over time, the brain will learn to favour each eye depending on the task.
Aside from prescribed lenses, laser eye surgery can be used to correct presbyopia. LASIK can create monovision without the need of contact lenses. In addition, the Kamra inlay (AcuFocus) was approved by the FDA in 2015 as a treatment option. It is implanted under the top layers of the cornea in one eye to control the amount of light entering and increasing your range of focus.
All treatment options should be discussed with the optometrist to ensure you have a complete and full understanding of them.