Middle aged man struggling with up close vision.

As we age, our eyes can undergo natural changes that make focusing on close-up objects more challenging. Presbyopia is one such age-related condition that affects millions of people worldwide, causing blurry close-up vision and difficulty reading fine print. But fear not, for there are various treatment options available to help you see clearly again. In this blog post, we will explore the presbyopia define, symptoms, and science behind this condition, as well as the numerous treatment options to correct this common vision issue.

Key Takeaways

  • Presbyopia is a common age-related vision condition causing difficulty focusing on nearby objects.
  • Various treatments are available, such as glasses or contact lenses, refractive surgery and lens implants.
  • Adopting a healthy lifestyle and preparing for an eye specialist appointment can help to safeguard vision health.

Understanding Presbyopia: Definition and Symptoms

Presbyopia is a physiological insufficiency of accommodation associated with the aging of the eye. It results in a progressive decline in the ability to focus clearly on nearby objects, making activities like reading small print or threading a needle increasingly difficult.

Symptoms of presbyopia include:

  • Difficulty reading fine print
  • Eyestrain
  • Blurring of close objects, often described as blurry close up vision
  • Temporarily blurred vision when changing the viewing distance

Interestingly, presbyopia is less discernible in bright sunlight due to the contraction of the pupil.

Interaction with Myopia and Other Refractive Errors

Presbyopia should not be confused with myopia, a refractive error that blurs distant vision. However, there is a relationship between these two conditions.

Individuals with low near-sightedness may be able to read comfortably without glasses at 40+ years of age, while those with higher levels of myopia may require bifocals or progressive lenses to avoid double vision at their normal reading distance.

The Science Behind Presbyopia

Presbyopia is caused by the natural aging process of the eye’s lens, which hardens and loses flexibility, resulting in a decline in the ability to focus on near objects. Glass lenses were first utilized for presbyopia in the late 13th century, and people with presbyopia often find themselves holding reading materials at arm’s length to see them clearly.

Natural Lens Aging Process

This hardening of the lens is due to biochemical changes in the lens, such as alterations in proteins, vitamins, glutathione, enzymes, and water balance. The lens becomes stiffer and less flexible with age due to the decrease in levels of α-crystallin, which has an effect on the eye’s capacity to concentrate on near objects, affecting close-up vision.

This yellowing of the lens also impacts the perception of blue light.

Diagnosing Presbyopia

A standard eye exam, also known as a basic eye exam, is used to diagnose presbyopia. It typically comprises a refraction assessment and an eye health exam. The refraction assessment is an examination conducted to ascertain if an individual has nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or presbyopia.

During the eye health exam, the dilation of the pupils allows the eye specialist to observe the interior of the eyes. It is recommended that adults have a complete eye exam annually.

Treatment Options for Presbyopia

Thankfully, there are several treatment options available for presbyopia, including glasses or contact lenses, refractive surgery, lens implants, and corneal inlays.

The subsequent sections provide an in-depth exploration of these treatments, aiming to assist you in selecting an option that best fits your specific vision needs.

Eyeglasses: Reading Glasses and Multifocal Lenses

Eyeglasses for presbyopia are available in different types. These include:

  • Simple reading glasses
  • Bifocals
  • Trifocals
  • Progressive lenses

Nonprescription reading glasses, available over-the-counter, can be used by individuals who had satisfactory, uncorrected vision prior to developing presbyopia, although it is recommended to consult an eye doctor to determine whether nonprescription glasses are suitable for you.

Alternatively, multifocal lenses, including bifocals and trifocals, incorporate distinct zones for distance, intermediate, and near vision, ensuring that objects at arm’s length are in focus, separated by noticeable horizontal lines.

Contact Lenses: Monovision and Multifocal Contact Lenses

For those who prefer contact lenses, monovision and multifocal lenses are available options for presbyopia treatment. Monovision involves using one contact lens to correct distance vision and another lens for near vision, creating a “reading eye” and a “distance vision eye”.

Bifocal contact lenses, like multifocal contact lenses, offer multiple zones for distance and near vision in a single lens, providing a seamless transition between the two.

Refractive Surgery: LASIK and Other Procedures

Refractive surgery like LASIK can improve near-vision in the nondominant eye for presbyopia, yet you might still need eyeglasses for close-up tasks. As refractive surgery is irreversible, discussing potential side effects with your doctor is advisable.

To better understand if refractive surgery is a suitable option for you, it may be prudent to trial monovision contact lenses before committing to the procedure.

Lens Implants and Corneal Inlays

Lens implants and corneal inlays present two potential surgical alternatives for treating presbyopia, each with its specific risks and benefits that deserve consideration. In comparison to cataract surgery, these options offer different approaches for addressing vision issues.

Lens implants and corneal inlays are two options for vision correction. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Lens implants involve replacing the natural lens with a synthetic one.
  • Corneal inlays are small plastic rings with a central opening that are surgically implanted into the cornea of one eye.
  • Both options carry potential side effects.
  • It is recommended to consult your eye specialist before making a treatment decision.

Eye Drops and Emerging Treatments

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of eye drops, such as Pilocarpine, for the treatment of presbyopia. Pilocarpine eye drops work by reducing the size of the pupil, enhancing the depth of focus and providing clearer near vision.

Nonetheless, studies suggest a potential correlation between the use of Pilocarpine eye drops and retinal detachment; thus, discussing the risks with your provider before considering this treatment is advisable.

Ongoing research is also exploring the potential of other drugs and lens elasticity restoration as future presbyopia treatments.

Lifestyle Tips and Home Remedies

While presbyopia cannot be prevented, there are lifestyle tips and home remedies that can help safeguard your eyes and vision. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep, can promote overall eye health.

In addition, protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays, using proper lighting, and taking regular breaks from screens can also contribute to maintaining good eye health by minimizing risk factors.

Preparing for an Eye Specialist Appointment

As you prepare for an eye specialist appointment, gathering pertinent information, including your medical history, ocular health history, and any previous ocular issues, is beneficial. Formulate pertinent questions to ask your eye specialist, prioritizing them from most to least important.

Becoming familiar with what to expect during the visit, such as the refraction assessment and eye health exam, will help you feel more comfortable and make the most of your appointment.


In conclusion, presbyopia is an age-related condition that affects millions of people worldwide, causing blurry close-up vision and difficulty reading fine print. Although presbyopia cannot be prevented, various treatment options are available, ranging from eyeglasses and contact lenses to refractive surgery, lens implants, and FDA-approved eye drops. By understanding the science behind presbyopia, exploring treatment options, and seeking professional advice from an eye specialist, you can take control of your vision and continue to enjoy life’s finer details.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you mean by presbyopia?

Presbyopia is the gradual loss of eyes’ ability to focus on nearby objects due to aging. It usually becomes noticeable in early to mid-40s and continues to worsen until around age 65.

What is the main cause of presbyopia?

Presbyopia is caused by age-related changes to the lens in your eye, which becomes harder and less flexible over time, making it difficult for light to focus on your retina. This results in nearby objects looking blurry.

What is presbyopia and how is it corrected?

Presbyopia is a normal part of the aging process that can’t be reversed, but it can be easily corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery. The most common and simplest treatment is wearing reading glasses, while laser treatment and surgery have very few advantages and come with many risks.

Is presbyopia nearsighted or farsighted?

Presbyopia is a condition where the crystalline lens in the eye can no longer focus well at near, requiring reading glasses or bifocals. It typically begins in our early 40s and can occur alongside nearsightedness or farsightedness.

How is presbyopia diagnosed?

Presbyopia is commonly diagnosed through a standard eye exam, including a refraction assessment and an eye health exam.


Photo graph of Dr. Conlon operating with loops on.

Dr. M. Ronan Conlon started his career in the field of ophthalmology at the same time as the development of refractive eye surgery in Canada. In 1996, he brought laser technology to Canada from Germany, which allowed him to perform laser eye surgery before it was available in the United States. With the establishment of the Conlon Eye Institute, Dr. Conlon has performed more than 40,000 refractive procedures and has advanced his expertise in LASIK and refractive cataract surgery.

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