If You’re Over 40, Bring on the Reading Glasses!
So, you just had your 40th birthday. Hopefully you survived the Depends (or worse) jokes and the black-frosted cake shaped like a tombstone. In reality, though, you’re probably less than halfway through your life.
In last month’s blog, we covered some of the things that are likely to change with your eyes and your vision after you pass the milestone of 40. In this final blog of this oddest of years, let’s get into one of those changes in particular, presbyopia.
What is presbyopia?
When we think about aging, we tend to think about wrinkles or sun spots on our skin or nagging pain in a knee or shoulder. But our eyes aren’t immune to aging. Presbyopia is a natural consequence of this. Presbyopia is a condition where the eye loses its ability to change its focus so that you can see objects that are near. In most people, it starts to appear at the age of 40.
When we’re young, the lenses in our eyes are soft and flexible, and they can bend and change shape easily. This is how you focus on objects both up close and far away. After most people turn 40 the lens becomes less flexible, more rigid. It can’t change shape as easily as it did in your younger days, so it becomes much more difficult to see things up close, such as when you’re reading. But you’re in good company — presbyopia affects almost everyone.
Isn’t this just farsightedness?
People confuse presbyopia with farsightedness (hyperopia), but the two are different conditions. When the lens of the eye loses flexibility with age, that is presbyopia. When the natural shape of the eyeball (the eye is either shorter than normal or has a cornea that is too flat) causes light rays to bend incorrectly when they enter the eye, that is hyperopia. The confusion comes because the results are much the same — the person has difficulty seeing things up close without correction — but the causes are very different. Farsightedness can be present at birth, while presbyopia develops after 40. Hyperopia often has genetic tendencies, while presbyopia is common throughout the population.
There is no cure for presbyopia, but it can be easily corrected. Most people simply opt for standard drugstore reading glasses, having a few pairs around the house wherever they may need to do some reading. It can also be treated with laser surgery. And if you have cataract surgery, as is almost universal at some point after we pass our 60th or 65th birthday, today’s amazing intraocular lenses can even correct for presbyopia in addition to replacing the cataract-clouded natural lens.
Is it time for your next eye exam? Call us at Millennium Park Eye Center, (312) 996-2020. You may still have some insurance money from this year to spend before you lose it in the New Year.