What is Presbyopia?

Developing as age increases, presbyopia is a condition that has similar effects to myopia – inability to focus on near objects – but has a different cause.

Where in myopia, the eyeball is too short or the cornea is misshapen; in presbyopia, ageing has caused the lens to:

  • become stiff
  • change shape
  • change size.

Either alone or in combination, these changes mean the lens can no longer give the focus required for near vision. Presbyopia also commonly occurs at the same time as other vision problems.

As part of normal ageing, presbyopia is the condition most off-the-shelf reading glasses are intended to counteract.

It’s one of the first recorded eye conditions. Some of the oldest surviving writings in history mention a condition that is identifiable as presbyopia.

presbyopia diagram

How common is Presbyopia?

Everyone over 35 has presbyopia to some degree – yes, 100 percent of people. For this reason, it is considered a normal part of ageing, not a disease.

The condition’s prominence increases throughout mid-life and into retirement age. Sometimes it stabilises around 65, other times it continues to get worse.

What are the symptoms?

The first symptom of presbyopia that most people notice is difficulty reading their phone. Other signs include:

  • eye strain and visual fatigue
  • tendency to read things at arm’s length
  • squinting
  • headaches.
presbyopia symptoms

Treatment options for Presbyopia

Because presbyopia is an unavoidable loss of function, it occurs on top of any other eye conditions already present.

Over-the-counter glasses may be effective if you had good vision before your presbyopia; however, if you already required vision correction before it developed, the treatment options become more complicated. Laser treatment, surgery and even implants are possible but each presents a different sets of trade-offs.

The overall goal is to compensate for the loss of near vision without compromising other kinds of vision. That said, some deterioration of vision due to ageing is both universal and inevitable.