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What is Presbyopia?

In infancy and childhood the natural lens of the eye is soft and pliable and is easily altered in shape by the ciliary muscles of the eye through a process called accommodation. Throughout life the lens of the eye gradually hardens, becomes less pliable, and progressively increases its resistance to change in shape. This leads to greater difficulty in focusing at near and, by the age of about 45 years of age, most people require reading correction, assuming their vision is corrected for distance. This condition is known as presbyopia.

Symptoms of Presbyopia

Most patients with presbyopia first notice difficulties while attempting to perform near distance tasks, such as reading. There may be blurring of near objects, or discomfort and fatigue with attempted near vision tasks. Some presbyopic individuals complain that their vision remains blurred for a few moments (or even minutes) after looking up from sustained near vision tasks. This is due to the lag of relaxation of accommodation after excessive near focusing in the presbyopic age group. Many patients complain that their "arms are too short", a statement that indicates accommodative powers are declining.

Presbyopia Treatment: Eyewear

People with presbyopia usually need treatment for both close up vision and distance vision. Usually eyeglasses and contacts are the obvious choice. A few surgical techniques are available with several still under testing and trials.

Presbyopia Treatment: Surgery

Even if you undergo LASIK or PRK as a young person and achieve perfect vision, you still will develop a condition called presbyopia typically beginning between the ages of 40 and 50. Presbyopia is the inability of the eye to focus at all distances, usually noticed when fine print starts to blur.

Current surgery for presbyopia includes Laser assisted, or LASIK, and CK, Conductive keratoplasty. These techniques all give the patient monovision so it is better to try out monovision with contacts before surgery, especially in the case of LASIK where changes to the are permanent.

Some eye doctors disagree about what causes presbyopia. Most believe stiffening of the eye's lens contributes to the condition. Other theories suggest that presbyopia could also be related to continued growth of the lens or atrophy of the muscles controlling the lens.


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