Presbyopia: Signs and Symptoms
Presbyopia: Signs and Symptoms
Presbyopia is a type of farsightedness or difficulty in viewing objects that are nearer to the eye.
However, unlike “typical” farsightedness, presbyopia does not have any relation to the shape of the eye.
While far- and nearsightedness usually relates to an irregular shape causing refractive problems within the eye, presbyopia instead relates to age. Globally, more than a billion individuals experience presbyopia to some degree, and this number will climb in the coming years as populations age into seniority.
What causes presbyopia?
To understand presbyopia, one must understand the basic mechanics of the eye. Recall that we see things because of the eye’s ability to focus light onto the retina. To ensure this light reaches the retina in a coherent form, both the cornea (the outer portion of the eye) and the lens (a structure just beneath the pupil) bend the light in the correct direction. Of these two, the lens is most important because of its ability to flex as necessary to keep images in focus. A special muscle in the eye enables this flexibility.
However, the lens stiffens as the body ages. Ultimately, the lens becomes so inflexible that it does not respond to muscular movements. The result is a lens that is unable to deliver the same level of clarity asbefore. Typically, presbyopia begins to manifest around the mid-40s, though it may begin earlier or later depending on the individual. Premature presbyopia can occur as a result of some prescription medications, such as some drugs for depression and anxiety. Anemia, heart disease, and diabetes also act to increase the risk of presbyopia. Otherwise, presbyopia is a consequence of the body’s natural aging processes and as such is something which everyone will eventually experience.
The symptoms of presbyopia
Blurred vision occurring when you try to focus on something up close, such as your cell phone, is the most common symptom present with presbyopia. This is because the lens typically needs to bend to deliver a focused image for nearby objects. The ability to view objects at a distance is not usually a consequence of presbyopia, though it can be linked to other age-related changes in the eye. If you’ve noticed an increasing challenge in reading objects at a normal distance, presbyopia may be the cause. As a result of the difficulty in focusing, you may experience the symptoms of eye strain as well, which can include headaches.
Treatment options available for presbyopia
It’s possible to treat presbyopia in several ways depending on a patient’s circumstances. Most frequently, special glasses using a progressive lens are the choice for everyday wear. Reading glasses are also a typical choice. Multifocal contact lenses for those who do not wish to wear glasses will also aid in restoring the visual acuity lost to presbyopia.
In more severe cases or when other options have not delivered satisfactory results, surgery can be a viable treatment choice. Again, there are several pathways in this category. A corneal implant can help offset the loss in lens flexibility, or an eye doctor may choose to replace the lens altogether. Some advanced forms of LASIK have also proven effective at counteracting the effects of presbyopia.