In basic terms, presbyopia is the gradual deterioration of eyesight which occurs amongst those who are approaching middle age, typically starting between the ages of forty and fifty. This unavoidable condition can create annoying difficulties in later years such as the inability to focus correctly on objects that are located at different distances from the observer. At the beginning, it is almost always near vision that begins to deteriorate the quickest and this will manifest itself in the form of long sightedness. If you are suffering from presbyopia and you have previously been unaware of the condition then one of the tell tale signs is that you will start to notice that you cannot read magazines or books properly that are too close to your eyes. As the problem worsens over time you may slowly become aware that you have to hold your book or newspaper further away than you used to, in some cases even at an arm’s length.
The underlying cause of presbyopia is a combination of the eye lens thickening and becoming a lot stiffer, which is caused quite simply by the aging process, and also the weakening of the muscle fibres that are used in order to help us focus on different objects in our field of vision. Unfortunately, this is something that happens to all of us as we get older and there are very few exceptions to the rule. As well as causing reading difficulties, with presbyopia you may also notice that you are struggling to carry out other simple tasks which require keen close up vision such as handwriting, using the computer or other pastimes such as sewing and knitting. Although the condition can make near field objects seem blurry, it should not be confused with other eye problems such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. This is owing to the fact that although the symptoms of these common visual disorders can appear to be quite similar, the underlying causes are usually different. Astigmatism, short sightedness and long sightedness are typically caused by a misshaped cornea which means that the treatment options available to the patient are not the same.
How Is Presbyopia Treated?
Once a diagnosis has been made by a specialist doctor or ophthalmologist, presbyopia can be treated effectively in a number of ways. One of the simplest solutions is the prescription of glasses or contact lenses. Provided there are no other problems involved with your eyesight and the condition is not too severe, you could even buy a pair of straightforward reading glasses over the counter at a chemist or supermarket which many people do. However, if you find that you already require the use of glasses in order to see clearly over long distances then you will almost certainly need to invest in a pair of bi-focal or varifocal glasses or contact lenses. This will enable you to see distant objects and things that are close up by focusing through the different lenses as required. Although this may be a little confusing at first, the human brain can easily adapt to the task of looking through these different shaped lenses quite quickly.
Presbyopia and Clear Lens Replacement Surgery
An increasingly popular treatment option for sufferers of presbyopia is that of clear lens replacement (CLR) surgery. Other terms which have been coined for this type of surgery include RLR (Refractive Lens Replacement) surgery and PRELEX (Presbyopic Lens Exchange). These vision correction procedures involve the surgical removal of the defective lens before replacing it with a synthetic counterpart. The operation itself is typically carried out under local anaesthetic and normally takes a few hours to complete. In many ways, this surgery is virtually identical to cataract surgery which offers the additional benefit of totally eliminating your chances of ever getting cataracts in the future.
There is currently a choice of two differing lens types for those opting to undergo CLR treatment and these are Multi-focal lenses and Monovision lenses. If you drive a lot at night and you wish to avoid experiencing the halo-effect caused by the reflection of street lights then it is advisable that multi-focal lenses are avoided as they can actually cause the patient to see faint rings depending on the surrounding lighting conditions. Monovision lenses do not pose this problem and they have the added advantage of being very similar to monovision contact lenses so that you can actually try them out beforehand for comfort and performance prior to committing to surgery.