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Why, As People Age, They Need Reading Glasses

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Starting at age 40, most people will start to lose their ability to focus on things close up.  This is caused by presbyopia, a natural occurrence in people with aging eyes in which the lens in the eye becomes less flexible over time. The more flexible the lens is, the easier it is to switch from short range to long range vision. Over time, the muscle fibers surrounding the lens degrade which affects the ability to see up close.

The cornea and the lens are needed to form images of the world around you.  They will focus any light that bounces off the things you see and bend light coming into the eye so that what you are seeing is targeted on the retina.  If you see a thing far away, the muscle around the lens relaxes and if a thing is close up, the muscle constricts.

Eyesight tends to keep degenerating until about 65.  From 40 to 65, a person will need to upgrade their prescription regularly.   Writing close up will be hard to read and it may become easier if you hold whatever you are reading at an arm’s distance away.  Also it can become more difficult to see things that are close by and headaches, fatigue and eyestrain can occur.  These symptoms can intensify if you are worn-out, in a dark place or you have been drinking.

After childhood is over, eyes lose their focusing power over time.  However, it typically becomes noticeable after 40.  People will also need increased light to read over time so it is advisable to keep all work and reading areas well-lit.   Early presbyopia also can occur in people with diabetes, MS or heart disease, or those taking certain medications such as antidepressants, diuretics and antihistamines.

The good news is that this problem can be fixed with glasses, contacts or laser surgery.  Glasses for this condition have increased focusing power in the bottom part of the lens so that one can read looking through this area.  Nonprescription glasses can be bought just about anywhere if a person can see at a distance.  For distance and near vision, there are bifocals and progressive lenses.

More recently, bifocal and multifocal contact lenses have entered the market, where it is possible to have two or three prescriptions within one set of contacts. Another option is monovision, where one contact affects farsightedness and the other nearsightedness.

There are various types of surgery that can modify vision.  Conductive keratoplasty (CK) utilizes radio waves to affect the top layer of the cornea.  In LASIK surgery a laser is utilized to shape the cornea.  Also, the natural lens can be substituted with a synthetic one when a person gets an intraocular lens implant.

Your eye care provider can diagnose this condition through a dilated eye exam.  This exam is important for all people over 40 to have.  Some people may already have myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) or astigmatism and this will compound with presbyopia.  Farsightedness and presbyopia are not the same, as a misshapen cornea causes farsightedness.  It is important to your health and well-being to get your eyesight checked annually after you turn 40.