Traditional Presbyopia Correction
Presbyopia (pronounced prez-bee-OH-pee-uh) is a condition in which the eye’s lens does not easily change its focal distance. Normally, we can easily switch focus from a book to the horizon, to a backyard tree, and back to the book, and all will be in clear focus. This is known as the eye’s accommodation.
Presbyopia (which literally means “aging vision”) affects everyone sometime after about age 40, making it difficult to focus on close objects or read small print.
Three Traditional Remedies
Traditionally, people with presbyopia have used corrective eyewear – reading glasses, bifocals, or progressive lenses – to see things clearly at a close distance.
- Reading glasses (used only for reading and close work) simply magnify whatever the person is looking at
- Bifocals include two separate prescriptions, one to improve near vision and the other to improve distance vision, and there is a clear dividing line
- Progressive lenses move gradually from one prescription to the other. They may be trifocals, with three prescription strengths, the central one being for intermediate distances. There is no sudden jump from one prescription to the next, as the glass is made with smooth transitions.
Many stores sell generic reading glasses below a certain strength. For stronger glasses you need to visit an eye doctor and get a prescription.
2. Contact lenses
Some people prefer contact lenses to glasses, and there have traditionally been three choices.
- Bifocal contact lenses – These work very much like bifocal glasses
Multifocal contact lenses – These provide multiple points of focus for a natural transition from very close to far distance vision. There are many variations available.
Monovision contact lenses – These work on a different principle. They use your dominant eye for distance vision and your non-dominant eye for near vision. It’s best for an eye doctor to determination which eye is used for which vision, but often right-handed people are right-eye dominant and left-handed people are left-eye dominant. While there is always an adjustment period for people new to monovision lenses, usually the brain becomes accustomed to processing the two different images in an appropriate manner.
3. Monovision LASIK
LASIK procedures have greatly helped many people with the three vision problems of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (irregular curvature of the cornea). But standard LASIK will not correct presbyopia.
Why not? Because presbyopia is not caused by corneal curvature problems. LASIK procedures change the corneal curvature to correct vision, whereas presbyopia is a lens problem. But if LASIK is done differently on each eye, it can help with presbyopia.
Monovision LASIK corrects one eye for near vision and leaves the other eye as is, for distance vision. The brain relearns how to use the information coming from each eye. Please see Presbyopia Correction: Monovision for more information.
Use of Intraocular Lenses
An increasingly popular method of correcting presbyopia is the Clear Lens Exchange, where the natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens.
Whichever procedure you choose, it is important to choose a good LASIK surgeon such as those at the Clear Advantage Vision Correction Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.