Starting in their 40’s, most adults start to notice their vision changing. Little newspaper fonts and miniature letters on a phone screen start to look smaller than they used to. Screen displays that have always been the same brightness start to look darker. Straining your vision in order to focus on something small seems more and more like a common occurrence, and you find yourself holding papers and devices out at arms length so that you can get a clearer look. All these conditions and other similar ones can seem like they come out of nowhere.
However, if this is your situation, don’t fret! Nearly all adults go through these changes in the two following decades after turning 40, and it’s nothing to worry about. This adjustment in your vision needs is called Presbyopia and it is easily remedied. Just visit your local family eye doctor.
Why does Presbyopia occur?
To be clear: even though it’s not until adulthood that you start to notice these visual issues, your eyes have been getting to this point since they stopped developing in childhood. To understand what’s happening when someone suffers from presbyopia, first we must understand how the eye depends on the cornea and the lens to see. The cornea, situated in the front of the eye, is a clear dome shaped surface. The lens is also clear, and it rests behind the cornea. It receives the light that passes through the cornea and then reflects it onto the back wall of the eye (the retina), generating an image.
And just like you adjust the knobs on a telescope or the settings on a camera in order to focus the image on something up close, the eye adjusts the distance between these two structures in order to focus. This is accomplished when the lens “flexes”, allowing the light to come in at just the right angle as to produce a clear picture.
As we age, however, the lens becomes less flexible. As these muscles lose their strength and precision, things can start to look out of focus. With the hardening of the lens, it loses the ability to change shape and focus on things that are up close.
What can I do about presbyopia?
Unfortunately, as far as preventing or curing presbyopia goes, there isn’t a lot you can do. Like many similar changes associated with aging, this is just something that happens and there are no known cures. Luckily, however, since it is so widespread, doctors have a fairly good idea of how to treat these conditions. To regain near vision, the three most common remedies that we would recommend are:
- Contact lenses
- Laser surgery and other refractive surgery practices
Complications with Presbyopia
Sometimes in addition to things blurring at near, other problems can occur with presbyopia. If words start to double on the page or even with doctor prescribed bifocals and reading glasses, you still experience eye strain and headaches, you may have a binocular vision problem. Some people even develop a strabismus when they hit presbyopia (eye that wanders outward or crosses inward). If you are experiencing doubling vision, headaches, or eye strain with reading and computer work, you may need more than a pair of bifocals or reading glasses. If you aren’t sure if the amount of symptoms you have is more than normal, please take this symptom questionnaire.
Issues before the age of 40
If you feel like you are experiencing some of the symptoms listed above and you are younger than 40, it may be a binocular vision problem. At Mountainview Vision Therapy we care deeply for our patients, and it is our pleasure to empower you to live a happy life and do what you need to do. Our team specializes in caring for those with binocular vision problems and comes from years of experience and lots of success in meeting our patients’ needs. If you feel like you or someone you know has a binocular vision problem, please contact us today.