The essential guide to up-close reading vision loss
You want to read your kids a bedtime story, but you find it hard to see the text on the pages clearly, and as a result, you have to hold the book at arm’s length.
Another scenario: you’re driving to work, and you find it difficult to make out how much gas is left in the tank because, from your vantage point, the fuel gauge looks completely out of focus.
These two anecdotes are illustrative of a type of vision loss you can begin to experience as you get older. While it seems like your vision can change suddenly, presbyopia is a condition that gradually starts to appear over an extended period of time. But once it’s finally come about—it’s virtually impossible to ignore the symptoms. That’s because this eye condition radically changes your near vision, something that has a huge impact on your everyday life.
If any of the above situations sound familiar to you, then you may have what’s known as presbyopia, an eye condition commonly characterized as blurry reading vision.
Read on to learn more about this condition, and see course of action you can take to help curb the symptoms to help you enjoy clear reading vision once more.
What is presbyopia?
Presbyopia is an extremely common age-related eye condition that affects nearly 100% of the population. That means you may eventually experience it at some point in your life. For most people, presbyopia starts to appear in our 40s, but some reportedly observe symptoms at an even earlier age.
No matter how old you are, it’s important to address symptoms early on, either with reading glasses or surgeries. That’s because this condition will worsen over time, especially if left totally untreated.
Even people who’ve had 20/20 vision their entire lives will likely start to notice a change. We’ll explain why that is below.
Why does presbyopia make my reading vision blurrier with age?
Short answer: growing older. Presbyopia roughly translates to “elderly eye” in Greek and although in today’s society, being forty years of age isn’t really considered over the hill by any means, it doesn’t prevent changes from happening in the first place.
Here’s what causes a change to your eyesight: the natural lens found inside of each of our eyes is a transparent, biconvex structure located behind the iris (the coloured part of the eye) and the pupil. Just like our cornea (the clear surface layer of the eye), the lens refracts light, which ultimately produces an image on the retina. The retina then sends this image to the optic nerve—the process of sight.
In a younger eye, the lens is flexible and elastic, and can bend to focus on objects at any distance, a process known as accommodation. With age, though, the lens loses that ability as it stiffens, making it more difficult to focus on objects at nearer distances. This is presbyopia.
What’s the difference between presbyopia and hyperopia (farsightedness)?
Though these two eye conditions exhibit similar symptoms, what causes them to form on the eye differs. Therefore, the corrective measures currently in place that treat hyperopia may not necessarily work as well for those exhibiting the signs of up-close reading vision loss. In fact, both hyperopia and presbyopia can exist in tandem, as explained below.
Hyperopia (also called farsightedness) is a refractive error that exhibits similar symptoms to presbyopia. In addition to near objects difficult to focus on, both of these conditions can lead to headaches, eyestrain, and fatigue—and making any object less than 30 cm from your face seem bleary. However, it’s important to note that these two eye conditions are independent of one another. As such, different treatment options are available for each.
Hyperopia is caused by an eye whose shape is shorter than a normal one—a term known as emmetropia. Due to its distorted shape, the light that enters the eye diverges just before the retina, producing out-of-focus images. Meanwhile, objects from afar are crisp and unobstructed.
Bottom line: if you already wear glasses to correct hyperopia, you may still experience presbyopia at some point in your life.
How to tell if you have presbyopia
Whether hampering productivity at work or getting in the way of reading a recipe, presbyopia manifests itself in many unpleasant situations.
Some early symptoms of presbyopia may include:
- Eyestrain or headaches become especially obvious or apparent when performing routine tasks from up close.
- Holding reading material at arm’s length in order to see texts with utmost clarity—this can make reading feel like a chore.
- Finding it difficult to see objects from a near distance, if you’re somebody who routinely performs tasks from up close, like doing the Sunday crossword, sewing a button into your shirt, or even just shaving—you may start to find life a little more complicated than it was in your pre-presbyopia days.
- Having troubles seeing clearly in dim lighting? In many people, poor night vision is a tell-tale sign of presbyopia.
Tired of living with presbyopia? Here’s what you can do
Advancements in intraocular lens procedures have made surgery a much more viable option to people afflicted by presbyopia. For example, some surgeries we offer, like Laser PresbyVision™ or Lens PresbyVision™ (a procedure in which the aging lens is replaced by an artificial one) can help you remove your dependence on reading glasses—or rid your routine of them—an innovative option that more and more people are turning to.
Now that we’ve cleared things up...
Do you think you have presbyopia? If so, and you’re interested in learning more about this age-related eye condition, then check out our website. Stay tuned for our next instalment, where we dive a little deeper into the procedures we offer, and how they work to get you seeing clearly again.