It comes with no warning like many other unwelcome signs of aging. One morning you wake up and there’s a new grey hair, or an unfamiliar fine line at the corner of your eye, or you find yourself squinting at your morning newspaper. It’s called presbyopia and it is the farsightedness caused by ageing. This condition happens to everyone at some point, but not everyone wants to wear reading glasses or bifocals which can make even the youngest looking person feel old. Read on to learn about this common condition and how you can avoid ever having to resort to granny glasses.

What is presbyopia?

As we age, the crystalline lens in the eye that bends the light in order to hit the retina loses elasticity. When this occurs, it prevents your eyes from focusing as well as they once did. Its effects can begin suddenly, usually around age 40, and can worsen over time.

According to the AOA (American Optometric Association), signs of presbyopia include:

  • Holding reading materials at arm’s length
  • Blurred vision at normal reading distance
  • Eye fatigue
  • Headaches when doing close work

Are there alternatives to bifocals/reading glasses?

Just because you’re in your forties, it doesn’t have to mean a life sentence of carting around reading glasses wherever you go. While there’s no cure for presbyopia, there are surgical and contact lens options.

Surgery–LASIK or CK (Conductive Keratoplasty) can create a monovision solution for presbyopes. What that means is one eye would be able to focus on distant objects while the other would focus on close objects.

Contact Lenses–Contacts for presbyopia come in “monovision,” “bifocal” and “multifocal” solutions. Multifocals are the most common form due to their ability to mimic a natural viewing experience. They are designed to have different portions of the lens for distance vision and near vision. Some good options for this type of lens are CooperVision’s Proclear 1 day multifocal and Proclear 1 day sphere; two advanced designs containing multiple zones of vision correction in both lenses, allowing for clear vision up close, at middle distances, and far away.

What if I also have other conditions like astigmatism?

Some people have more “-opia’s” than they can keep track of: myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, and then there’s astigmatism. In fact, having multiple conditions is very common. For example, high hyperopia (farsightedness) is associated with high levels of astigmatism. If you’re afraid your eye doctor will turn you down for contact lenses because of a complex prescription, you need not worry. There’s more variety out there than ever before. For example, the Coopervison Proclear family includes a lens that is multifocal, toric and designed to alleviate dry eye symptoms (a common side effect of presbyopia).

There’s no need to let the onset of presbyopia get you down. It happens to everyone and there are several options for correcting the issue without ever having to wear “readers” or bifocals. If you’re wondering if you have presbyopia and are interested in trying multifocal contact lenses to correct it, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.

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