Trouble with Fine Print? The Facts on Presbyopia

Medically reviewed in February 2021

Do you find that you have to hold things farther away from your eyes to see them clearly? The problem you're having may be due to presbyopia -- a condition that results when the lenses in your eyes start to age. Lenses become harder and less flexible over time, and the muscles that support and control the lenses lose strength, making it harder for them to do their job. The result? Near vision declines, and reading and other up-close activities become more difficult and more tiring.

Clearing Things Up
Most people experience at least some degree of presbyopia during their middle-age years. The good thing about presbyopia is that it's fairly easy to correct, and clear vision can soon be yours again. But it's important to see an eye-care specialist first to make sure there isn't something else to blame for your vision problems. If your doctor thinks you have presbyopia, and you don't already wear glasses or contacts, he or she might recommend a simple pair of nonprescription reading glasses, like the ones sold in drugstores. But check with your doctor first. Here are some important questions to ask at your appointment.

If you already wear glasses or contacts, then prescription reading glasses or a new type of contact lens may help clear things up for you. For example:

  • Bifocals and trifocals help you see both up close and at a distance. Trifocals also correct vision at mid distances.
  • Progressive lenses act like bifocals and trifocals but provide a more gradual transition between the prescriptions.
  • Monovision contacts are designed so that one eye handles your distance vision while the other takes care of seeing up-close objects. These can take your eyes some getting used to.
  • Multifocal lenses help both eyes see clearly up close and far away. Focus may not always be quite as clear as what can be achieved with monovision lenses.
  • Eye surgery, such as LASIK, can correct presbyopia. Some methods restore monovision, and others replace lenses with artificial ones.

Work with Your Doctor
Whatever it might be that's compromising your sight, your eye doctor is the right person to see for a solution. So don't hesitate to book an appointment if you're noticing any changes in your vision.

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