Why can’t I see up close anymore?

by Jul 10, 2019

Presbyopia is a normal aging process in which the eyes slowly become unable to focus on near objects.  It typically begins around age 40 and progresses throughout the next few decades. At the onset of presbyopia, reading material may appear blurry and objects may have to be held further away to become clear.  While many people see the development of presbyopia as an embarrassment, it is important to remember that it is a standard age-related condition. Everyone will experience some degree of presbyopia in middle and old age, and there are many options to make living with presbyopia easier. 


The Cause of Presbyopia (Why you can’t see up close!)

 Presbyopia occurs due to aging changes in the focusing system of the eye.  This focusing system consists of a clear crystalline lens and a circular muscle known as the ciliary body.  When the eyes are young, the focusing system is strong and flexible and allows us to view objects at all distances clearly and easily. Around age 40, the crystalline lens becomes more rigid, making the focusing system less effective.  When this loss of flexibility in the crystalline lens and the resulting change in focusing ability occurs, the symptoms of presbyopia become more noticeable and near objects will be begin to be more difficult to read.  


What Happens When Presbyopia Begins? 

Many people notice the symptoms of presbyopia very suddenly and dramatically.  Small objects that used to be easily seen unexpectedly become blurry and difficult to read.  Presbyopia is not something that can simply be overcome by “focusing harder.” However, in early presbyopia, simply adjusting your working distance and holding objects further away than normal may be enough to clear things up.  As presbyopia progresses and near objects become progressively blurrier, you may have to turn to other options. Some nearsighted individuals find that their reading material is clearer if they simply remove their distance glasses.  For those who have never needed glasses in the past, over-the-counter reading glasses may be enough to provide clear vision for near tasks. While these short-term solutions may provide temporary clarity for near work, know that there are many more corrective options for presbyopia. 


Treating Presbyopia 

From glasses to contact lenses, there are several effective correction options for those experiencing presbyopia.  The traditional treatment for presbyopia is a bifocal lens for glasses. These lenses include a power at the top of the lens that corrects for distance vision, as well as a smaller reading portion towards the bottom of the lens that provides clear vision while reading and performing near work.  Traditional bifocals have a line visible on the surface of the lens that separates the two optical powers. Another option similar to a bifocal lens is a progressive lens, commonly referred to as a no-line bifocal. Progressive lenses provide a distance prescription at the top of the lens, an intermediate portion towards the middle of the lens, and a reading prescription at the bottom.  Beyond the benefit of not having a distracting line on the front of the lenses, progressive lenses provide clear vision at a wide range of distances, including computer work. For the presbyopes who want to avoid glasses, multifocal contact lenses can also provide clear vision at a wide range of distances. 



Our eye doctors, optometrists and staff at Nittany Eye Associates excel in the diagnosis and prescription of glasses for presbyopia and those that can’t see up close.  Our optometrists can help you find the right glasses and lenses for your visual needs. Call us at (814) 234-2015 or schedule an eye exam appointment online.  Our optometrists provide the highest quality eye care services in Central PA.

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