Presbyopia is a natural age change which affects people’s close vision as they get older. It is usually first noticed between the ages of about 40 – 45 years old and affects both men and women equally.
Presbyopia is a natural ageing process of the eye similar to getting wrinkles or developing grey hair and unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to stop it developing.
Within our eyes, we have a natural lens whose function is to focus on objects at different distances. You can think of the lens within your eye as being similar to that in a camera. Only instead of having to adjust the zoom in a camera, our eyes do it instantly and automatically. If you take a minute to look around the room you are currently in, you will be looking at objects at different distances from you. Your eye will have to continually change focus to ensure that what you are looking at is clear. Your lens does this instantly and automatically and consequently, it is something you take for granted. The lens does this with the aid of the ciliary muscles in the eye by changing its shape, depending on what distance you are looking at.
For distance tasks the lens in your eye is flat and this requires little/no work from the muscles in your eye. For closer objects, the ciliary muscles need to work harder to change the shape of the lens from being flat to a more rounded shape. The closer the object you are focusing, the more rounded your lens needs to be. This focusing at near is called accommodation. Presbyopia describes the natural ageing process whereby the lens loses its elasticity (becomes harder) and the ciliary muscles which control it, lose their effectiveness. The lens therefore cannot assume the more rounded shape required to focus at near.
From about the age of 40 years old the ability of your lens to focus (accommodate) is not sufficient enough to read things close to you. At the start of presbyopia, you may only have problems reading if you are tired or when you are trying to read the very small print. If you are short-sighted you will find that as you develop presbyopia you will need to take your glasses off to read. Long sighted people will need bifocals, varifocals or separate reading glasses in order to see clearly in the distance and near.
Laser Eye Surgery & Presbyopia:
Laser eye surgery has typically only been used to treat people who need glasses or contact lenses for distance vision only. However, over the past 5 years or so, laser vision correction has become more and more sophisticated and is now capable of treating people with presbyopia. The current methods that can be used are CK treatment, Monovision laser, laser blended vision and Kamra vision inlays. You can read about all these methods at the following link: Can laser eye surgery correct reading vision?