Planning for Presbyopia – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
As we age, natural wear and tear on our eyes causes eyesight problems. Most notably, we find the ability to focus on items close to us becomes difficult. We begin squinting at the small print and may find ourselves wishing for longer arms.
Identifying the Causes of Presbyopia
Just like our knees and backs, the lens of the eye stiffens with age, and the lack of flexibility means the lens is less able to achieve the strong narrow focus you need to see close up: this is presbyopia. Presbyopia is often mistakenly referred to as nearsightedness, but nearsightedness and farsightedness are both connected to the shape of the eyeball, not the lens; and the cause is related to genetic and environmental factors, not aging.
Recognizing the Symptoms
The first signs of presbyopia include difficulty reading the small print, and it may take longer to regain focus after shifting your gaze from the distance to close up. But over time, the condition worsens because presbyopia is degenerative, and in addition to impaired vision, you may also suffer from headaches and fatigue caused by eyestrain.
Exploring Treatments for Presbyopia
Unfortunately, there is no cure for presbyopia, but you can take care to ensure your eyes are healthy. A regular eye exam and updating your prescription as necessary will ensure you are not straining your eyes to see clearly. Your eye doctor can also help you choose the treatment that suits you best.
Bifocals, progressive lenses and contact lenses are the most common way to deal with presbyopia. Bifocals have two different prescriptions in one lens. The top part is for distance, the bottom for close up. However, this does mean that there is a line across the lens where the two lenses meet, and some people find this irritating.
Progressives may be a solution to bifocals. Progressives use one lens with two prescriptions that blend together at the transition point. Progressive lenses take a little time to get used to, but many people find the line-free multifocal lenses are the perfect solution for their loss of vision.
Not everyone wants to wear glasses all the time, and luckily contact lenses are available for the treatment of presbyopia. There are two types of contact lenses for presbyopia: multifocal or monovision. Multifocal lenses are available in both available in gas permeable or soft lens materials.
And monovision lenses, as the name suggests, use one lens for distance and one for close up. When wearing monovision lenses, the brain has to learn to favour the eye that works best for either distance or close up. This takes time to get used to, and while some people love this solution, others find it causes loss of depth perception.
A more permanent solution, that is increasingly becoming more popular, is surgery for the correction of presbyopia. There are several different surgeries available.
The implantation of a corneal inlay is a new treatment that is becoming more popular in the U.S. A corneal inlay is implanted into the cornea of the weaker eye. This increases the depth of focus and reduces the need for reading glasses, this eye will be favoured for close reading without affecting the distance vision of the eyes.
There are more options for the surgical treatment of presbyopia including laser treatments, refractive lens exchange, and conductive keratoplasty.
- Laser treatments include both monovision and multifocal treatments. Just like contact lenses, the laser treatment can correct the lens to become a multifocal lens or it can correct one lens to be for distance and one for close up.
- Refractive lens exchange (RLE) is practically the same as cataract surgery. The lens is replaced with presbyopia-correcting intraocular lenses (IOLs).
- Conductive Keratoplasty is a non-laser eye surgery. It is a noninvasive procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to treat presbyopia. Low energy radio waves reshape the cornea and restore near vision. The procedure only a few minutes and causes minimum discomfort.
If you find it increasingly more difficult to read the small print, don’t wait too long before scheduling an eye exam. Contact us through our website or call us at (250) 979-2090 if you would like to book an appointment at our Kelowna optometry clinic to learn more about your treatment options for presbyopia.