Aging is inevitable, and as you get older, you may notice some changes in your vision and ask yourself if it's time for reading glasses. Just as your body works a bit differently than it once did, the same rules apply to your eyesight. You’ve probably seen people looking at phones or reading material with outstretched arms, or heard jokes about this occurrence. After you pass the milestone age of 40, you may start to notice difficulty focusing on objects up close. This normal loss of focusing ability is called presbyopia.
What is Presbyopia?
In short, age-related farsightedness or presbyopia is due to loss of flexibility and hardening of the lens inside your eye. It is a refractive error that makes it hard for middle-aged and older adults to see things up close. It happens because the lens (the inner part of the eye that helps the eye focus) stops focusing light correctly on the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye). Presbyopia is different from farsightedness which is a different type of refractive error that makes it hard to see things up close. Presbyopia is perfectly normal and doesn't signify any sort of disease process.
What are the Symptoms of Presbyopia?
- Trouble seeing things up close
- Needing to hold reading materials farther away to focus on them
- Eye strain which leaves your eyes feel tired or sore
How is Presbyopia Treated?
For a time, you can compensate for the early stages of presbyopia by trying some simple changes to help you read, such as:
- Holding reading materials farther away from your eyes
- Choosing large-print books or increasing font size on the computer
- Using brighter reading lights
These tips for dealing with the vision decline will help to start, but eventually you’ll need reading glasses, multifocal contact lenses or multifocal eyeglasses. Everyone is different, but most patients get their first pair or readers sometime between the ages of 41-60. Presbyopia gets worse over time, but by your mid 60s, your vision will likely re-stabilize and you won’t need to keep adjusting your prescription any further.
While presbyopia is a common vision change and not a serious cause for concern, some of us will experience more serious age-related eye diseases. These diseases have a greater potential for affecting our quality of life as we grow older and include glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Moreover, some vision changes may not be related to aging at all, and may require immediate treatment to protect your vision. Vision changes can occur over time and cause you to wonder if what you are experiencing is normal. It’s always best to schedule an appointment and consult with your eye doctor if you notice any changes to your vision.