When most people think about serious eye conditions that could permanently affect vision, the first that come to mind are the four leading causes of blindness: namely cataracts, retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. However, there is another condition that, although generally not as serious, is potentially just as debilitating and actually much more common, presbyopia. Believed to affect more than a billion men and women worldwide, presbyopia (which literally means “aging eye”) is an age-related eye condition that makes it more difficult to see objects clearly at close distances. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this extremely common eye condition.
Unfortunately, presbyopia is a natural result of the aging process, like graying of the hair or wrinkling of the skin. Tiny muscles in the eyes continuously bend and flex the lenses so that they are able to focus on objects at varying distances. However, as the eye ages, the lenses gradually become less flexible and the muscles surrounding them grow weaker and less responsive. Eventually, the lenses in the eyes are no longer able to bend far enough to bring nearby objects into focus. This is why most people start to experience difficulty seeing objects at close range about the time that they reach the age of forty.
Will Presbyopia Develop If I Have Undergone LASIK Surgery?
Nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, the refractive errors that can be corrected with LASIK surgery, result from irregularities in the shape of the eyes, not from defects in the lenses themselves, and so the two types of conditions usually have no effect on one another. In some cases LASIK may clarify vision to the point that presbyopia is less noticeable, but it cannot stop the aging process or the gradual deterioration of the lens entirely. However, there are several effective Presbyopia treatments for both adults who have and who have not had laser vision correction surgery.
How Can I Tell If I Have Presbyopia?
Patients may be suffering from presbyopia if they start to experience increasingly blurred vision when doing close work, reading small text, or trying to focus on fine details, especially if these symptoms begin when the patient is between 37 and 47 years of age. One classic sign is when you find yourself needing to hold a book or newspaper at arm’s length in order to focus on the text clearly. As the condition slowly worsens, attempts to force the vision into focus by squinting and the like can even cause headaches or eye fatigue.
How Can Presbyopia Be Treated?
The most common treatments for presbyopia generally involve the use of prescription reading glasses, bifocals or progressive lenses. Advanced multifocal contact lenses are also able to provide patients with relief. In some cases, those suffering from severe presbyopia may also opt to undergo intraocular lens replacement surgery. Commonly used to treat cataracts, an intraocular lens is an artificial, silicone lens that is implanted directly into the eye, replacing the damaged natural lens and restoring clear vision. Patients who have undergone intraocular lens replacement surgery can significantly reduce or even completely eliminate their dependency on reading glasses, depending on the specific type of intraocular lens they choose.
If you are concerned that you may be experiencing the symptoms of presbyopia, a comprehensive medical eye exam and consultation with Dr. William Segal or Dr. Marc Lay can help you decide with presbyopia treatment is best suited to your individual needs. Please feel free to contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons today to make an appointment, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more to keep your vision healthy.