Do you hold your phone further away from you to see it? Can you only see a menu if you keep it at a distance?

These are often signs of an age-related eye condition called presbyopia. Your risk of developing this and other eye conditions increases with age. 

Presbyopia is one of the most common eye conditions, meaning most people will eventually develop it. Most adults will have some degree of presbyopia by the time they turn 45. The eye condition also usually tends to worsen with age. 

The most common treatment for presbyopia is simply reading glasses. Because of how common presbyopia is, reading glasses are widely available and usually sold over the counter. 

But how do you know when you need them? Keep reading to learn more about presbyopia and how to tell if it could be time to invest in a pair of reading glasses to improve your vision!

What is Presbyopia?

Each of your eyes contains a natural lens. The lens changes shape to focus on nearby objects. 

As you age, some muscles in your body can become weaker, and tissue becomes less flexible.

The natural lens loses its flexibility as well as you get older. When this occurs, the lens becomes less flexible, making it more challenging to focus and see objects up close. 

Presbyopia makes you more farsighted, meaning you can’t see as well up close and tend to see better at a distance. But since presbyopia develops slowly, it can be hard sometimes to determine when it begins to affect you. 

This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to have eye exams regularly after you turn 40. With a simple visual acuity test, your eye doctor can easily tell when you have presbyopia. Still, there are symptoms you can look out for to make it easier to determine if you have presbyopia on your own.

Presbyopia Symptoms

When you have presbyopia, you may experience some, if not all, of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty seeing up close and reading, especially
  • Seeing better when holding reading material at a distance
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

You may be surprised to know that presbyopia can cause physical discomfort. Experiencing physical discomfort isn’t due to the condition itself, which only affects the natural lens, but because you have to strain your eyes to see. Straining your eyes can cause headaches and fatigue. 

Luckily, when you can correct your presbyopia, you won’t have to strain your eyes anymore. Any discomfort should dissipate when you no longer have to strain your eyes. 

The best part is that the simplest way to correct your vision when you have presbyopia is with reading glasses.

What are Reading Glasses, and How Do They Work?

Reading glasses are special glasses that help you see better up close. They function much like a standard magnifying glass. 

The lenses are thicker in the middle and thinner around the edges, enlarging text and whatever else you’re trying to look at up close. You can get most kinds of reading glasses at pharmacies, online, and some boutique shops. 

They come in different strengths. Most reading glasses you can buy without a prescription are between +0.25 and +3.50 diopters. If you need a stronger prescription, you should be able to get one from your eye doctor.  

If you also have an existing refractive error, you can get bifocal lenses. These lenses have your standard prescription on the top half of the lens to help you see at regular distances and a prescription for reading glasses on the bottom to help you see up close.

Alternative Presbyopia Treatments

When you have presbyopia, reading glasses are the most accessible way to treat them. However, other treatments can reduce or eliminate the need for reading glasses if you want to explore ways to reduce your dependence on them.

One of these treatments is contact lenses. Specialized lenses called multifocal contacts can help you see better up close and at a distance. 

Like bifocal lenses, these contact lenses are divided into different sections. But instead of only two parts, the lens comprises rings that alternate between two lens prescriptions. 

When wearing these contacts, your eyes automatically look through the part of the lens that best helps you see what you’re looking at. Multifocal contact lenses are a good option for patients with presbyopia and an existing refractive error like nearsightedness, much like bifocal lenses. 

If you have cataracts and need cataract surgery, you may not know you can correct presbyopia during the procedure. Cataract surgery removes your natural lens and the cataract formed on it. 

A crucial component of the procedure involves replacing the natural lens with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens or IOL. Replacing the natural lens with an IOL opens up a world of possibilities and options. 

Many IOLs can treat presbyopia, especially if you choose a premium IOL. Premium IOLs, which are more advanced lenses specifically designed for patients with refractive errors and presbyopia, can help you see exceptionally well and reduce and even eliminate the need for other visual aids, including reading glasses.

If you’re considering a premium IOL, consider your lifestyle, visual goals, and desires after cataract surgery. Your eye doctor at Traverse City Eye will make recommendations to help you choose the best IOL based on these needs.

Learn more about reading glasses and other ways to treat presbyopia by requesting an appointment at Traverse City Eye in Traverse City, MI, now! Why should presbyopia have a say in how you live your life?