Presbyopia is a vision condition in which the lens loses its flexibility, making it difficult to focus on close objects. During the early and middle years of life, the crystalline lens of the eye has the ability to focus both near and distant images by getting thicker for near objects and thinner for distant objects. When this ability is lost, presbyopia results.
As we age, the lenses in the eyes lose some of their elasticity, and without elasticity they lose some of their ability to change focus for different distances. Presbyopia may seem to occur suddenly, but the actual loss of flexibility takes place over a number of years. Long before an individual is aware that seeing close up is becoming more difficult, the lenses in the eyes have begun losing their ability to flatten and thicken. Only when the loss of elasticity impairs vision to a noticeable degree is the change recognized. Presbyopia usually becomes noticeable in the early to mid-forties.
A comprehensive examination will include testing for presbyopia. Your eye doctor can conduct a refractive evaluation to determine whether your eyes focus light rays exactly on the retina at distance and near. A visual acuity test will determine your ability to see sharply and clearly at all distances. Your eye doctor will also check your eye coordination and muscle control, as well as your eyes’ ability to change focus. All of these are important factors in how your eyes see.
Reading glasses and contact lenses are used by many for the temporary treatment of presbyopia. However, there are a number of vision correction procedures that can surgically reduce or eliminate the effects of presbyopia. Some presbyopic patients like monovision, which allows them to see distance clearly in one eye and close-up clearly with the other eye. Presbyopia can be present in combination with other types of refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.