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Fact sheet Fact sheet

Presbyopia

29/03/2018

Headshot of 50-year-old male dressed casually and wearing glasses

What is presbyopia?

During the ageing process, everyone will eventually experience changes to their vision where it becomes harder to focus on near objects. This is known as age-related loss of near focus, or presbyopia, and is usually seen in people over 45. Most people need to start wearing reading glasses to deal with presbyopia, but not everyone will be affected to the same extent.

Why is my reading vision blurry?

Presbyopia is the result of age-related changes to the eye’s lens, which is responsible for focusing light entering the eye. The lens of the eye is normally soft and flexible, allowing us to easily change our focus from a faraway object to something close by (and vice versa). However, as the lens gets older, it starts to lose its natural elasticity and the task of re-focusing between far and near becomes harder.

As a result, the ability to see objects up close (e.g. reading) is slowly lost. Long-distance vision is usually unaffected. Presbyopia occurs in both eyes (although not identically), and normally stabilises when you are over 55 years of age.

Presbyopia develops gradually. Initially, you might notice that, because of blurred vision, you need to hold your mobile phone, iPad or newspaper further away when you read. As your near vision continues to deteriorate, you may require reading glasses or contact lenses to help you read or perform other fine-detail tasks (e.g. sewing, drawing, cooking).

You can still develop presbyopia even if you already have an existing refractive error such as short-sightedness, long-sightedness or astigmatism.

What are the signs that I am developing presbyopia?

  • Blurred vision
  • Cloudy vision
  • Difficulty reading small print
  • Difficulty focusing on near objects
  • Need to hold objects further away to see them properly
  • Difficulty reading in dark conditions
  • Blurred vision headaches (after reading)
  • Eye strain

How do you correct presbyopia?

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to correct presbyopia. For some people, reading glasses are a suitable solution. For others who prefer to reduce their dependence on glasses, laser eye surgery for presbyopia, refractive lens exchange or implantable contact lenses could be the best option.

If you think you have presbyopia, visit your optometrist in the first instance to have your eyes checked.

If you have presbyopia and want to find out if getting rid of your reading glasses is a possibility, talk to one of our highly experienced eye surgeons to discuss your options.

References

  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology. What Is Presbyopia? USA, 13 January 2020. Available at https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-presbyopia [Accessed 6 January 2021].
  2. Berdahl J, Bala C, Dhariwal M, Lemp-Hull J, Thakker D, Jawla S. Patient and Economic Burden of Presbyopia: A Systematic Literature Review. Clin Ophthalmol 2020;14:3439–50.

The information on this page is general in nature. All medical and surgical procedures have potential benefits and risks. Consult your ophthalmologist for specific medical advice.

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