A guide to presbyopia

What is presbyopia?

Presbyopia is a condition that diminishes the eye’s ability to focus on close-up objects. This usually occurs from about the age of 40 and is the most common form of near vision loss. Those who have presbyopia generally find that when they try to read or focus on small details their vision becomes blurry. Researchers estimate that nearly 2 billion people worldwide have presbyopia [1] .

Although presbyopia is common, many people struggle with vision loss during ageing. It is important to remember that it is a natural part of the ageing cycle and can be easily corrected with corrective lenses.

Presbyopia occurs when the lens of the eye hardens, causing the eye to focus light behind rather than on the retina when looking at close objects. It’s a type of refractive error, along with short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism, and can be easily diagnosed with an eye test.

Most people will develop presbyopia, even if they’ve never had a vision problem before. Even people who are short-sighted will notice that their near vision blurs when they wear their usual glasses or contact lenses to correct distance vision.

Fortunately, people with presbyopia who wish to wear contacts instead of bifocal glasses can opt to wear multifocal contact lenses.

What are the symptoms of presbyopia?

A typical symptom of presbyopia is difficulty reading fine text print, especially in low light conditions. You may also experience eye strain whilst reading text, or after reading for longer periods, as well as headaches and blurry vision when changing viewing distance.

You should get an eye test and speak to your optician if you experience any of the following symptoms;

  • Sudden blurry or hazy vision
  • Double vision
  • Sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • You see halos around lights, black spots or flashes of light
  • You feel the need to hold material farther away in order to make letters appear clearer
  • If you experience headaches after reading or doing a task that requires close-up work and long periods of concentration.

These symptoms may be worse if you are in an area of dim lighting or you are experiencing fatigue. Drugs such as antidepressants, antihistamines and diuretics have been associated with premature presbyopic symptoms. Seek medical advice immediately if you are on any of these medications and experience symptoms of presbyopia.

How to cure presbyopia

There is no direct cure for presbyopia as it is part of the natural ageing process, but it can be easily corrected. Multifocal contacts (sometimes referred to as varifocal or bifocal lenses) are the most common way of correcting presbyopia and long-sightedness. The lower part of the lens is designed to feature your corrective prescription, while the top half is clear, allowing you to easily view objects close-up by looking down, and see far away by looking up and straight ahead.

While bifocal glasses were once the only way to achieve this, advanced contact lens technology means that you now have the option of wearing lenses. Contrary to popular belief there are a wide range of multifocal contact lenses available for wear as a substitute for wearing glasses to correct presbyopia.

Contact lenses for presbyopia

Multifocal contact lenses for presbyopia are available as daily, two weekly or monthly lens depending on which your preference.  

Daily contact lenses such as 1 Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal and Dailies AquaComfort Plus Multifocal offer high quality, value for money daily multifocal contact lenses for presbyopia. The affordable dailies are standard hydrogel lenses that offer a fresh new pair of lenses each day, without a daily cleaning routine. For extra comfort, there is also the option of silicone hydrogel multifocal contact lenses for presbyopia, such as Dailies Total 1 Multifocal and Clariti 1 Day Multifocal. The breathable silicone hydrogel material allows an increased amount of oxygen into the eye for exceptional comfort and a longer wearing time.

Those who want a slightly longer wearing cycle can opt for Acuvue Oasys For Presbyopia, a two weekly lens which features innovative Hydraclear® technology and has exceptional water retention. Monthly contact lens wearers can opt for lenses such as Proclear Multifocal XR which provide an extended range to cater for contact lens wearers with more extreme prescriptions. Contact lenses such as Air Optix Plus HydraGlyde Multifocal and Clariti Multifocal offer excellent vision and comfort during their entire wearing cycle.

Read our detailed guide on multifocal contact lenses to find out more about how they work, and the benefits of choosing them over bifocal glasses or the outdated, bifocal contact lenses.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29753495