Dr. Shonah Finlay Doctors Eye Care
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What is Presbyopia?

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A middle-aged man wearing glasses reads off his phone.

As we navigate through life, our bodies undergo various changes, and our eyes are no exception. One such change that may come up during an eye exam is presbyopia. Often first noticed around the age of 40, presbyopia is a natural part of the aging process that affects our ability to see objects up close

The good news is this condition is both common and manageable with corrective lenses. Understanding it can help you take proactive steps to maintain your vision health.

Understanding Presbyopia

Presbyopia occurs when the lens of the eye loses its flexibility. The lens is responsible for focusing light onto the retina, allowing us to see clearly at different distances. In younger eyes, the lens is flexible and can easily change shape to focus on near or distant objects. However, as we age, the lens becomes stiffer and less able to adjust its shape. This loss of flexibility makes it difficult to focus on close objects, leading to blurred vision—or, in other words, presbyopia.

Signs & Symptoms of Presbyopia

Recognizing the symptoms of presbyopia is the first step toward managing it effectively. While your optometrist can provide a sight test, which is one of the best ways to measure changes in your vision, it’s likely you’ll be the first one to suspect something is wrong. Common signs include:

  • Difficulty Reading Small Print: You may find yourself holding books, menus, or mobile devices at arm’s length to see the text clearly.
  • Eye Strain: Prolonged activities that require close focus, such as reading or sewing, may lead to discomfort or eye fatigue.
  • Headaches: Straining to see clearly can result in frequent headaches, especially after tasks that involve near vision.
  • Blurred Vision at Close Distances: Objects that are close to you may appear blurry, even though distance vision remains clear.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule an eye exam to determine if presbyopia is the cause. This condition can happen alongside other refractive errors, such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism, which can make some of the symptoms harder to spot.

Diagnosis & Treatment Options

Presbyopia is typically diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam. During the exam, we can assess your vision and determine the extent of your focusing difficulties. Using a phoropter, an instrument with various lenses, we can measure your vision at different distances by asking you to read letters or symbols on an eye chart.

Additionally, we can use a retinoscope—a device that shines light into your eyes—to directly observe how light reflects off your retina, aiding in assessing your eye’s focusing ability.

Once diagnosed, several treatment options can help you manage presbyopia:

  • Corrective Lenses: Reading glasses, bifocals, trifocals, and progressive lenses are common solutions that can help correct near vision. These lenses are specifically designed to address the focusing challenges caused by presbyopia.
  • Contact Lenses: Multifocal contact lenses or monovision contact lenses can offer a convenient alternative to glasses.
  • Surgical Options: Procedures such as LASIK, conductive keratoplasty, and lens implants can provide long-term solutions for certain individuals. Your eye doctor can help you determine if surgery is a suitable option.
A middle-aged woman gets her eyes examined by an optometrist

Lifestyle Changes & Preventive Measures

While presbyopia is a natural part of aging, there are lifestyle changes and habits that can help manage its progression. You can’t truly prevent or reverse presbyopia, but you could potentially slow its appearance by:

  • Eating a healthy diet: A diet rich in vitamins and nutrients, particularly vitamins A, C, and E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, supports overall eye health.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking has a wide range of health ramifications, including increasing your risk of presbyopia. 
  • Wear protective eyewear: Wearing sunglasses that block UV rays can protect your eyes from sun damage, which can lower your risk of presbyopia.

Even if you have presbyopia, there are steps you can take to make this change in your vision more manageable. Here are some tips you can use:

  • Adequate lighting: Good lighting can reduce eye strain and make reading or close-up work easier.
  • Rest & relaxation: We all need a break from time to time. Giving your eyes a rest during tasks that require intense focus can prevent strain and fatigue.
  • Regular eye exams: Routine check-ups allow for early detection and timely intervention, ensuring your vision needs are met promptly. We recommend you visit us annually.

Enjoy Clear Sight At All Ages

Presbyopia is part of growing older, but understanding it and knowing how to manage it can significantly improve your quality of life.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of presbyopia or have concerns about your eye health, we invite you to book an appointment with Doctors EyeCare Grande Prairie. Our team is here to provide professional care and personalized solutions to help you see clearly at every stage of life.

Written by Dr. Shonah Finlay

Dr. Finlay grew up by the gold mines in South Africa and knew from a young age she wanted to follow a medically related career. She applied to and was accepted to study optometry at the former Rand Afrikaans University in South Africa. During her last year of studies, Dr. Finlay worked on the Train of Hope: South Africa’s Phelophepa. This custom-built train (now 2) travels throughout rural South Africa to deliver top-quality primary healthcare to disadvantaged communities. It was a wonderful experience to bring sight to so many people that otherwise do without. Those memories always remind her of why she loves practicing optometry.
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