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In your lifetime, there are several significant periods of change in your eyesight. The most obvious ones occur when you are a child – the growth and development of your vision as a toddler, then the visual demand changes as you reach school age. There are also big changes that occur after 40 years of age.

The most common are:

  • Presbyopia (blurry vision at near)
  • Cataracts (cloudy vision)
  • Dry eye

The following can also occur over 60 years:

  • Glaucoma (peripheral vision loss), but can sometimes occur before 40 years of age!
  • Macular degeneration (progressive central vision loss)
  • Corneal degeneration (progressive vision loss)

Many of our patients find these changes quite distressing. However it is important to remember that some of these changes are normal.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia is the normal loss of the ability to focus at near that occurs with age. Most people begin to notice the effects after age 40, when they start having trouble seeing small print clearly. These changes continue until around age 55, when the changes plateau.

Signs of presbyopia

  • Having to hold your reading material further to see clearly (phone, books, menus, labels, etc.)
  • Trouble seeing your food clearly
  • Finding your children are bringing things too close when showing you something
  • Having to squint to make reading clear
  • Takes a few seconds to change focus, e.g. from typing a text message on your phone, to looking up and walking
  • Poor vision in low light areas

Presbyopia causes blurry near vision

What causes presbyopia?

Presbyopia is caused by the gradual thickening and loss of flexibility of the natural lens inside your eye. With less elasticity, the eye has a harder time focusing up close.

What happens if I don’t treat presbyopia?

If your presbyopia is not corrected, you can experience:

  • Increased short-sightedness
  • Increased astigmatism
  • Significant difference in prescription between the two eyes.
    • This is your brain trying to make one eye responsible for distance and one eye for reading. However, this means that you will be compromising your depth perception abilities.
  • Trouble with adapting to new prescriptions
  • Blurry near vision
  • Headaches and sore eyes
  • Visual fatigue

Gone untreated, presbyopia can be very uncomfortable

Presbyopia treatment

The most popular solution for presbyopia is multifocal (or progressive) lenses. Because your prescription requirements will be different at distance and near, the multifocal lenses account for this by slowly changing prescription from the top of the lens to the bottom. This allows comfortable, clear vision at all distances.

The lens has your different prescriptions to provide clear vision at all distances

If you spend most of your day in the office, or in front of a computer, you may find Extended Focus multifocal lenses more comfortable. With the normal ‘full’ multifocal lenses, the lens area for computer work is too small to be comfortable for extended periods of time. The extended focus lenses have a larger portion of the lens dedicated to computer work, while also providing clear vision at near and within the office environment e.g. looking from computer (50cm), to paperwork (20cm), to someone standing in front of you (150cm).

If you don’t require glasses for distance, and just need a pair of glasses to help with reading, you can choose single vision lenses. Because the entire lens is dedicated to your reading prescription, you will need to remove your glasses when looking up into the distance.

If you prefer not to wear glasses at all, you can choose multifocal contact lenses. Similar to the multifocal glasses, it allows clear vision at distance, intermediate and near. Monovision contact lenses are also another alternative, where one eye is corrected for distance, and the other eye is corrected for near. Your brain is then able to use the vision from the correct eye for each scenario.

How can you slow presbyopia?

Presbyopia will eventually affect all people, but there are some things you can do to delay its onset/severity.

 

  • Wear the correct glasses for the correct task. This means that you may need separate glasses for distance, reading, and computer; or just one pair of multifocal glasses. Wearing the correct lenses will also make your life more comfortable and enjoyable!
  • Have regular eye tests to update your prescription. We also assess the health of your eyes to pick up age related eye conditions such as cataracts, retinal diseases, glaucoma and other eye conditions.

We stock frames to suit any lifestyle, from light weight to high fashion.

  • Try not to strain or squint your eyes as this will induce astigmatism
  • Spend more time outdoors. Try to aim for a 1:1 ratio of gadget use and outdoor. E.g. 1 hour on the iPad = 1 hour outdoors e.g. family picnic, walking, swimming
  • Take regular breaks and alternate near tasks with something that requires distance vision. Near tasks include gadget use, computer use or reading; distance tasks include showering, eating, getting a glass of water, or chatting with a family member.
    Every 40 minutes of near tasks, take a 5 minute break to do a distance task.
  • Good lighting. The reading area should be well-lit to not cause strain on your eyes. If using a computer, the computer screen should NOT be brighter than the environment.
  • Good posture
    • Avoid leaning or reading lying down. This produces uneven strain on eyes.
    • Place reading material directly in front, not off to the side; especially for computers.
    • Make sure both feet touch the floor.
  • Avoid reading in the car as the constant movement requires greater concentration and may cause eye spasms
  • Warm towel compressions/eye drops after reading
    • Wet a small, soft towel with warm water and hold to your eyes for 1-2 minutes after reading.
    • Single use eye drops are available in store
  • Good working distance
    • Reading: 35cm away, should be tilted back 20°. Or elbow to first knuckle.
    • Computer: 50cm away
    • TV: >3 metres away
      Follow the general rule: the larger the screen, the better for your eyes.
      I.e. TV > Computer > IPad > Phone

If you have any questions or feel that you have any of these symptoms, call 3345 3383 or email [email protected]