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.
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.
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.
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.
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.