Unlike other eye conditions (such as myopia or astigmatism), presbyopia is specifically related to aging of the eye and the loss of flexibility of the eye's lens. As the eye ages, the lens becomes hard and rigid. Additionally, the associated muscles of the eye have aged and lost flexibility, rendering the lens unable to flex and focus. The result is an eye unable to focus on things that are close.
This aging of the eye is most noted around the age of 40. You may notice that you have to hold things further away in order to read fine print. Unfortunately, presbyopia is unavoidable, as it simply is the result of the eye aging.
Almost everyone will develop presbyopia, so if a person also has another eye condition such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) or astigmatism, the conditions will combine. Individuals that are nearsighted (myopia) may have fewer problems with presbyopia than those that are farsighted or those with astigmatism.
Correcting Presbyopia with Lenses
For individuals that are dealing with presbyopia, the easiest way to help improve vision is to use reading glasses. Reading glasses can help to magnify vision for projects that are at close range, like reading. Reading glasses, or 'Readers' that are available for purchase at drug stores, would work to help correct the presbyopia. For higher quality glasses, an ophthalmologist or optometrist can prescribe reading glasses to improve close vision.
If you already wear contacts for myopia or hyperopia, it is important that you to talk to an eye doctor to get the right reading glasses that work with your current prescription. Reading glasses will need to work with your current prescription to adjust for close up vision.
Bifocals are a type of glasses that can be worn to address presbyopia and myopia. The bottom portion of the bifocal lenses magnify to improve close vision, while the upper portion of the lens has a different point of focus to adjust for distance vision.
Another option for correcting presbyopia is called monovision. This technique is when contact lenses are used, with one contact lens adjusting for distance and the other contact lens adjusting for close vision. The brain will adapt to relying on one eye for distance and one eye for close vision.
Correcting Presbyopia with Surgery
Conductive Keratoplasty (CK) is a procedure in which the cornea is reshaped using radio waves. The radio waves will increase the curvature of the cornea. The correction is temporary and will reduce over time.
Another procedure that can resolve presbyopia symptoms is a form of LASIK. In this LASIK procedure, one eye is adjusted for distance vision and the other eye is adjusted for close vision, similar to how monovision contact lenses work. The brain will adjust to relying on one eye for close vision and another eye for distance.
Lastly, refractive lens exchange is a procedure where the eye's rigid and inflexible lens is replaced with a synthetic lens. The new lenses will correct the presbyopia, as well as other vision problems.