Why do older people need reading glasses?

Just as our hair begins to grey when we get older, a gradually diminishing ability of the eyes to focus on things close-up is also a natural and common sign of ageing. In fact, according to a recent report by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, the UK has a presbyopic population of more than 30 million.

The term for the eye condition limiting our close-range focus as we age is presbyopia – originating from a Greek word meaning “old eye” – and it generally begins after the age of 40.

What is presbyopia?

Our eyes work hard all day, every day, constantly changing their focus between things nearby and at a distance. Our focus is controlled by small ciliary muscles around the cornea and lens of the eye that relax to look at something far away and contract to look at something close-up.

When we are in the first decades of our lives the lens is usually softer and enables a large range of flexibility and focus. By the time we reach our forties, it becomes much stiffer and has less range of focus.

Even if you’ve never had problems with your vision before, you can still get presbyopia.

What are the symptoms of presbyopia?

It’s quite easy to notice if you’re getting signs of presbyopia.

A clear symptom of presbyopia is that you are struggling to focus on things close-up such as reading a book or looking at your phone – the text and images may appear blurred when they are close and become clearer when you hold them further away.

Other presbyopic symptoms include headaches, eye strain, and tiredness (particularly after reading or doing close-up tasks); needing more light when reading; squinting to focus on objects nearby; and blurred close-up vision.

If you notice any of these symptoms or you think you may be getting signs of presbyopia, book an appointment with your optician to explain what has been happening and to have an eye examination. Your optometrist will be able to establish if you have presbyopia and be able to help you to find a solution that eases your discomfort and works with your lifestyle.

How is presbyopia treated?

There is no cure for presbyopia but it’s a common condition and it’s easy to find a treatment that can work for you.  

A simple solution for presbyopia is wearing prescription glasses when you are reading or doing tasks that require focusing on things close-up. If you already wear glasses, your optician can prescribe varifocal or multifocal lenses, which enable you to see all distances through the same lens.

Contact lenses can also be used to treat presbyopia. Multifocal contact lenses work in the same way as a pair of varifocal glasses, correcting all vision problems within one lens.

You may also choose to use a combination of glasses and contact lenses – speak with your optician about your lifestyle and what works best for you.

Presbyopia can also be corrected with refractive surgery. Eye lens surgery can replace the lens of the eye with a multifocal lens to act like permanent varifocal glasses.

Keep an eye on your eye health

Optomeyes has a team of qualified and experienced optometrists and dispensing opticians available to help you with your day-to-day eye health and vision as well as advising with any concerns you may have.

We recommend you have a routine eye health check every two years to check both your vision and overall eye health. Check in with us anytime for advice about eye care, or if you have any concerns about the health of your eyes.

Get in touch today to book an eye test in Lee-On-The-Solent or Wickham with one of our experienced optometrists.

Alternatively, email lee@optomeyes-eyecare.co.uk or wickham@optomeyes-eyecare.co.uk and one of the team will call you back to book your appointment.