Presbyopia is the gradual reduction in the amount that the eye can change its focus. The changes are the result of the continued growth of the biological lens inside the eye, and are a normal part of ageing. Presbyopia usually becomes noticeable between the ages of 35 and 45 as an inability to focus on near objects. It People in this age group often find that they have to hold things further away to see them clearly. Close tasks such as reading and sewing become difficult, particularly in poor light. For example, you may find that you are holding your newspaper further away from your eyes to make the print clearer. Presbyopia does not affect distance vision. You may also have difficulty concentrating when reading or you may find periods of close work result in sore eyes, headaches or tiredness. Inside the eye there is a lens about the size of a pea. To focus on close objects, a special muscle in the eye changes the shape of the lens. This process is called accommodation. With age the lens loses its flexibility and is less able to change its shape. This is a completely normal ageing change, just like stiffening joints or greying hair. The loss in lens flexibility is the reason that close focusing becomes more difficult (assuming you are not myopic – shortsighted). It is an ageing process that everyone will experience, the condition cannot be prevented. It is not possible to treat presbyopia effectively by surgery at this time; most touted surgical options have been far from satisfactory. Presbyopia is corrected by a spectacle prescription designed especially for close distances, in the form of spectacles or contact lenses. It is important that the prescription is calculated for the distance at which you do your close tasks. The correction for presbyopia with single vision near spectacles will make near objects clear but distant objects blurry. This means that if you have a pair of spectacles just for reading, you will not be able to watch television while wearing them. One way around this problem is the use of bifocals or multifocals. These are special lenses that have a prescription for distance vision in the top section of the lens and the prescription for near vision (reading) in the lower region. In some cases contact lenses are also an option. The degree of presbyopia will continue to progress until approximately 65 years old regardless of whether spectacles are worn. Wearing spectacles will not weaken your eyes, accelerate or slow the development of presbyopia. Through discussion with your optometrist, you will be able to decide on the best way of helping you to deal with presbyopia.
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