Good Healthcare Requires Treatment of Your Mind, Body, and Soul

Good Healthcare Requires Treatment of Your Mind, Body, and Soul

Treatment For Presbyopia: What You Need To Know

by Hugh Larson

As you age, it often becomes more difficult to focus on close objects. People commonly refer to this condition as long-sightedness, but the medical name for this problem is presbyopia. Most people cope with the condition by wearing corrective glasses or contact lenses, but it's also possible to treat presbyopia with laser eye surgery. If you or someone you love suffers from long-sightedness, find out more about the condition and the treatment options that are available to you.

About the condition

Refractive errors occur when the eye cannot focus light on the retina effectively, often through age or because of abnormalities in the eyeball. Presbyopia is one of four types of refractive error that affect people in the United States, and is a growing problem for older people. More than 110 million people in America suffer from presbyopia, and experts believe this number will increase to 123 million by 2020.

Causes of presbyopia

To see objects close up, the lens in your eye needs to become thicker. This takes place when the ciliary muscles tighten at either end of the eyeball. As the muscles tighten, the lens thickens and becomes more curved, bringing light rays from close objects more sharply into focus. Unfortunately, the lens in your eye becomes stiffer as you grow older, which makes it harder for these ciliary muscles to work effectively.

People with presbyopia can focus on objects in the distance, as this occurs naturally when the lens is in a resting position, but sufferers find it difficult to focus on objects that are close. The problem normally starts around the age of 40, and most people need corrective glasses or contact lenses within five years. Presbyopia can occur prematurely if you do a job that means you do a lot of close-up work. Exposure to ultraviolet light can also accelerate the problem, so people who live in hot, sunny countries can also suffer from the condition.

Types of presbyopia

Although millions of people suffer with presbyopia, you can experience different types of long-sightedness. 

  • Incipient presbyopia is the earliest stage of the condition. You may just find it hard to read small print.
  • Functional presbyopia occurs when you notice more problems with near sight.
  • Absolute presbyopia means that you cannot focus on objects that are close by at all.
  • Premature presbyopia occurs before the age of 40.
  • Nocturnal presbyopia only affects people in dull light conditions.

Non-surgical treatment options

An optician may prescribe bifocal or varifocal lenses to treat presbyopia. Bifocal lenses have a lens at the bottom for long sight to help you see close up, while the rest of the lens allows distant vision. Some people prefer to wear bifocal contact lenses instead of glasses. You can also wear a different type of lens in each eye – one to help with near vision and one to improve distance vision. Many people with presbyopia cope with the condition quite comfortably with glasses or contact lenses, but other treatment options are available.

Laser eye surgery

Traditional laser eye surgery is not an effective solution for presbyopia. This type of surgery alters the shape of the cornea, but does not deal with the age-related changes that cause problems with the lens of the eye. Newer forms of laser eye surgery can now help people with presbyopia.

Eye care professionals sometimes use a technique called monovision to treat presbyopia. With this procedure, a laser eye surgeon may use a technique called conductive keratoplasty (CK) to correct the condition. The surgeon will normally carry out CK on your non-dominant eye, so that the other eye sees distant objects more clearly. The FDA approved this technique as a presbyopia treatment in 2004, subject to certain conditions. For example, patients should have had stable refraction for at least 12 months before the treatment.

Multifocal laser eye surgery is an advanced form of the treatment that changes the shape of the cornea to create different zones of near, far and intermediate vision. Your brain then automatically chooses the zone it needs to see through to get the sharpest image. This type of laser surgery is undergoing clinical trials in the United States.

Presbyopia is a common condition that affects millions of people in the United States. While many people cope with glasses or contact lenses, advances in laser eye surgery mean that other options are now available. 

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About Me

Good Healthcare Requires Treatment of Your Mind, Body, and Soul

I have worked in a supportive role in the medical industry for over 20 years, and I have been amazed at the advances in medicine that have been made. While it is always great to hear about a new medication that helps cure a disease or a new surgical procedure that can help someone live a normal life again after an injury, I have been especially amazed at the research that has shown just how much our physical and mental health are connected. Since I keep on top of all of the amazing medical studies being performed and I know others are too busy to hunt them down themselves, I decided to start a blog to share my favorite health tips for keeping both your mind and body healthy.