Dr. Wlodek answers many of the most common questions regarding Presbyopia
How would you define presbyopia?
It’s the normal process in life where the eyes start to lose their focusing ability for reading. We call that presbyopia. It happens in our mid-40’s. How do we diagnose it? Symptoms: If you can’t read anymore, then you become presbyopic. Usually, I tell people it’s not fun but it’s normal.
Is it the same for everybody?
No, I would describe it as farsightedness catching up with you because your eyes can’t focus close up. In effect, people feel differently at different ages and for people who are nearsighted their vision up close may be satisfactory but they may need to remove their glasses to see up close. That’s a sign of presbyopia as well.
What would you say are com
mon solutions for it?
Glasses and contact lenses.
Are there specific recommendations or differences between contact lenses?
If you are an eyeglasses wearer already and you don’t have an interest in contact lenses we would just add a progressive ad bi-focal or progressive ad lens to help you see up close. That way, the top part is for distance, and the bottom part is for up close. You can keep wearing your glasses as you always have. Contact lens wearers can switch over to a multifocal contact lens. I usually describe those as high-tech visual devices where typically the center of the lens has the reading prescription and then there’s a bull’s eye in the center for near with rings outside of that for intermediate and distance vision. They definitely take the time to get used to and I describe them as an effort to balance distance and near and neither is 100%. At least we can limit the need for reading glasses.
A lot of people turn to LASIK for nearsightedness. Does that have anything to do with presbyopia?
No, LASIK is not an option for presbyopia. The only way to do that is to leave one eye nearsighted so that’s monovision – one eye distance, one eye near. There’s really no surgical option except for considering a lensectomy which is the same procedure as having a cataract removed, you just haven’t developed a cataract. And then there are some cool implants that are multifocal, so those accommodate for both distance and near. It’s not dramatic because people develop cataracts and have them removed. It’s just being done sooner than later. There is a new school of thought which argues why wait until I’m age 70 to start to see really well?
Is there anything to be done to slow down the process of presbyopia or help your eyes stay stronger?
Not that I’m aware of. However, proper nutrition is important for the visual system to work well. There aren’t eye exercises that will help, mainly because the lens of the eye becomes so hard that the muscles can’t change the shape of it anymore. This is because the lens keeps growing throughout our lives and adds many layers of tissue to it.