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  Serving Chapel Hill for over 40 Years

Presbyopia


WOULD YOU SEE BETTER IF YOUR ARMS WERE LONGER ? A common complaint voiced by many of our "40-ish" patients is that they would be able to see better if their arms were just a bit longer. They make this statement because many of them are beginning to experience a blurring of vision when trying to read or to see other "close" objects. By holding the material at arms length, the patient can often see the material more clearly. Presbyopia is a vision condition in which the crystalline lens of your eye loses its flexibility, which makes it difficult for you to focus on close objects. It affects almost all individuals by the time they reach the age of 45 to 50. Presbyopia is not a disease, but a natural part of the aging process.

Cause
Although it may seem to develop suddenly, presbyopia has been progressing since you were about ten years old. Over the past thirty years or so, your eyes have gradually been losing their ability to focus. Of course, this loss has been so small that it has been barely noticeable to you. When the amount of focusing loss reaches a certain point, however, further changes are much more noticeable and seem more rapid. These are the changes that occur during your forties.

Symptoms
Some symptoms of presbyopia include the tendency to hold reading materials at arm's length, blurred vision at normal reading distance and eye fatigue along with headaches when doing close work. A comprehensive optometric examination will include testing for presbyopia.

Treatment
To help you compensate for presbyopia, your optometrist can prescribe reading glasses, bifocals, trifocals or contact lenses. Since presbyopia can complicate other common vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, your optometrist will determine the specific lenses to allow you to see clearly and comfortably. You may only need to wear your glasses for close work like reading, but you may find that wearing them all the time is more convenient and beneficial for your vision needs.

Unfortunately presbyopia cannot be stopped and periodic lens changes may be necessary as it progresses. At about age 65 or 70, however, the problem sometimes stabilizes and the need for lens changes may be less frequent.

Presbyopia and contact lenses
Bifocal contact lenses are available and our office specializes in fitting both soft and rigid bifocal contacts. In addition, the technique of monovision (using one eye for close vision and one eye for distant vision) is becoming more common. Reading glasses may also be used in addition to contact lenses to adjust to vision changes. Check with your doctor for the best solution for your specific visual needs.