Is Losing Near Vision Inevitable After 40?

Is Losing Near Vision Inevitable After 40?

Age-related degenerative processes in your body can be felt almost everywhere, from your joints to your eyesight. In the United States, 128 million people have some degree of presbyopia, which comes from the Greek words “old eyes,” sending them for reading glasses any time they want to view something up close.

At Vision and Ortho-K Center, our skilled optometrists, led by Dr. Curtis Frank, have extensive experience helping patients to address age-related changes in their eyes — and presbyopia is at the head of the list.

Here’s a look at how, and when, presbyopia typically occurs and what your options are for restoring near and clear vision.

Presbyopia — a matter of lens health

Unlike other vision problems, such as farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism, presbyopia isn’t a refractive error. This condition occurs when the lenses in your eyes begin to thicken and harden over time, decreasing their ability to focus on objects up close.

When you focus on something close to you, muscles around your lenses contract. As your lenses become less flexible with time, the muscles are unable to move the lens to allow them to focus. As well, the muscles themselves can weaken over time, which exacerbates the problem.

Problems with focusing on text up close is the hallmark of presbyopia, but there are other side effects, such as difficulty seeing at night or having trouble focusing in low light.

Presbyopia — a matter of time

Just as your skin develops wrinkles, your lenses will slowly thicken and harden with age. Most people first show signs of presbyopia in their 40s and this degeneration continues through to their late 60s, at which point the problem tends to level off.

Presbyopia affects men and women equally, so there’s no gender difference, and it affects people of all races and ethnicities. 

Really, the primary risk factor for presbyopia is age, though it can occur prematurely if you have certain risk factors, such as trauma to your eye or a preexisting health condition like diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Treating presbyopia

The frontline “treatment” for presbyopia is to outfit yourself with a pair of reading glasses that help magnify objects that are in your immediate field of vision. You can find different levels of reading glasses at your local pharmacy, and these can go a long way toward helping you see more clearly and prevent eye strain.

If you have other vision issues, such as nearsightedness, and you already wear corrective lenses, we suggest you come see us for specialized lenses that can help with both problems.

Please note that refractive surgeries, such as LASIK, aren’t solutions for presbyopia as they treat your corneas and not your lenses.

Since presbyopia typically first starts in your 40s, we recommend that you come see us around that age for a comprehensive eye exam. We can track your visual health and check for other issues that may be interfering with your near vision.

To get started, contact one of our offices in Boston or Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts, to schedule an appointment.

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