Presbyopia Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Presbyopia is an age-related condition. As we get older, the crystalline lens within the eye starts to harden. When it does this, it becomes less flexible. This means that it is less able to change shape which is needed when you try to focus on close-by objects. As light passes through the eyes, the lens usually bends the light rays further in order to focus them on the retina at the back of your eye. As we age and the lens becomes less flexible, instead of seeing a clear, defined image, the object will appear blurred and out of focus.

What causes presbyopia?

Although it is an age-related condition and most people will experience the condition to some degree, there are some additional risk factors that make someone more likely to experience presbyopia. These include having any of the following conditions:

  • Anemia
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Eye trauma
  • Poor circulation
  • Hyperopia (far-sightedness)

Certain types of medication can also increase your risk of premature presbyopia including antidepressants, antihistamines, antipsychotics, and diuretics. Our eye doctor will be able to advise you if you are more likely to experience presbyopia as a result of your health or medications.


What are the symptoms of presbyopia?

There are a range of symptoms associated with presbyopia. These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Suffering from eyestrain or headaches after reading or doing close-up or heavy concentration work
  • Difficulty reading small print or the text on smartphone screens
  • Eye fatigue, particularly after a period of visual focus
  • Needing brighter lighting to read or do close-up work
  • Having to hold anything you are reading at arm’s length to be able to focus on it
  • Squinting
  • Sensitivity to light

Since it is a progressive condition, the symptoms of presbyopia will get worse over time unless you seek treatment. The deterioration is gradual, but it will get increasingly harder to focus on nearby objects without prescription eyewear.

Can presbyopia be treated?

Although there isn’t a single cure for presbyopia, there are various treatments that can help. These can be used independently or in conjunction with one another.

Nonprescription glasses

Also known as reading glasses, these are glasses that can be bought over the counter from drug stores and other retail outlets. They will be labeled with the degree of magnification that they offer, and it may be necessary for you to try several options to find the pair that offers the greatest improvement in your vision.

Prescription glasses

If you already wear glasses to correct a condition like myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism, reading glasses won’t be appropriate. Instead, you’ll need to consider bifocal or multifocal lenses. These can have multiple different prescriptions incorporated into them, meaning that you can have them set to correct your usual refractive error and your presbyopia. Bifocal lenses have two different types of focus, while trifocals have three. Your eye doctor will be able to explain them to you in more detail and help you to choose the variety most suited to your needs.

Contact lens options

If glasses aren’t for you, there are several contact lenses options that could be effective. Monovision contact lenses have one lens set for distance vision and the other for close-up work. It can take your eyes some time to adjust, but mono-focal lenses are a viable choice for some patients. Similarly, multifocal lenses could also be right for you. Again, our eye doctor will be able to advise you.

Surgery for presbyopia

If prescription lenses aren’t providing enough clarity of vision for you, you may be a good candidate for surgery to treat presbyopia. There are a number of options available. These include:

  • LASIK, correcting one eye for near vision and the other for distance.
  • Refractive lens exchange (RLE) surgery, which involves removing the natural lens of your eye and replacing it with an artificial alternative.
  • Conductive keratoplasty, which uses radiofrequency energy to change the curve of the cornea so that light is refracted correctly.

If you have concerns about presbyopia, our dedicated and knowledgeable team would be happy to help. Call 718-565-2020 today to schedule an appointment.