WORDS HANNAH MAY-LEE WONG
If you are over 40, have problems focusing up-close and need to read your newspaper or tablet from a stretched distance, it’s likely you have presbyopia — a common eye condition you develop as you age.
WHAT IS PRESBYOPIA?
Did you know, the word “presbyopia” means “old eye” in Greek? Also known as long-sightedness, presbyopia is when a person gradually loses the ability to see objects clearly when the objects are up-close. Don’t worry, it is not a disease but a normal process that comes with ageing. It usually starts when a person is over the age of 40 and continues to worsen until the age of 65.
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
The lens in your eye flexes and relaxes with the help of muscles that surround it – it helps your eye focus when seeing an object. As you age, this lens hardens and becomes less flexible. The loss of flexibility makes it difficult for your lens to change shape when focusing on nearby objects. Thus, these images appear out of focus.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms usually first start after a person turns 40. People with presbyopia may realize that they:
- Tend to hold their reading material further away to be able to see clearly.
- Have blurred vision at normal reading distance.
- Suffer headaches or fatigue when reading or doing work that requires seeing things closely.
IS PRESBYOPIA THE SAME AS FAR-SIGHTEDNESS?
No. People with far-sightedness (hyperopia) have difficulty seeing things that are close by, but have no difficulty seeing things from a distance. Although this may sound similar to presbyopia, far- sightedness has different causes and can occur at any age. Far- sightedness stems from having an irregularly shaped eyeball, which causes light rays to focus incorrectly once it enters the eye. This results in blurred vision.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
There is no cure for presbyopia, but there are plenty of options to improve vision. Options include:
Reading glasses: Simple and affordable reading glasses (you can often find these at pharmacies or Daiso) can help presbyopia. Just pick the weakest prescription pair that allows you to read or see objects up-close clearly. The downside to this is that it only helps you see objects that are near. To see far, you would have to remove the reading glasses.
Bifocals: A popular option for many, bifocal glasses have two prescriptions in one lens. The top part allows you to see far objects, and the lower part of the lens helps you see near objects.
Progressive lenses: Progressive lenses, sometimes called multifocal lenses help you see up- close, far and at middle distance all in one lens. This saves you the hassle of changing glasses each time you see near or far.
Unlike bifocals, progressive lenses have no distinct lines between the sections of prescriptions. The transition between prescriptions is gradual and seamless, creating a clear and sleek look to the glasses. If you’re looking for a pair to try out, the Varilux® X series by Essilor offers premium progressive lenses, with an option for Near Vision Behaviour (NVB) personalization. NVB customizes each lens to a person’s posture and movement. The Varilux® X Series is available at major optical shops throughout Malaysia. For more information, visit www. essilor.com.my. HT
1. American Academy of Ophthalmology. What is presbyopia? Retrieved from: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/ what-is-presbyopia. 2. Mayo Clinic. Presbyopia. Retrieved from: https:// www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/presbyopia/symptoms-causes/ syc-20363328. 3. WebMD. What is presbyopia? Retrieved from: https:// www.webmd.com/eye-health/eye-health-presbyopia-eyes. 4. WebMD. Are progressive lenses right for you? Retrieved from: https://www.webmd. com/eye-health/about-progressive-lenses#1.
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