Have you noticed someone over the age of 40 needing to wear reading glasses? Maybe you are that age and notice that you can no longer focus on material up close. This is a completely normal part of aging that happens to everyone and is known as presbyopia. To understand why this happens, we must first look at what controls our focusing mechanism.
When we need to change our focus from an object in the distance to an object up close, tiny muscles in our eye (ciliary body) push and pull on our lens to change its shape, and thus change its overall refractive power. This is analogous to twisting the lens on a camera to increase or decrease its focal length. As we age, our lens becomes stiffer, making it more difficult for our muscles to change its shape. As a result, our eye can no longer have a full range of focus (accommodation). Therefore, we rely on glasses (or contacts) to do the focusing for us. Although most people feel this change happens overnight, it actually occurs very gradually and starts happening when we are in our 20s. We do not notice any problems in our 20s and 30s because we have such a large range of focus, that losing a little does not affect our normal day to day activities.
There are several options to help your eyes out. First, if you have good distance vision, then reading glasses that you put on whenever doing a near task may be your best bet. If you already wear glasses, then you will be ready for bifocals or progressive addition lenses (no-line multifocals). If you do not want to wear glasses or already wear contact lenses, then there are multifocal contact lenses that work very well.
Look for a future post about an exciting new eyeglass lens option coming out in May called the emPower lens. It is an electronic, automatic focusing lens that garnered a lot of attention at this month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. We will be the exclusive providers of these lenses in the Charleston area once they are released.
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