Skip to main content

Your Trusted Optometrists in Burnaby, British Columbia

(604) 332-4424

Your Trusted Optometrists in Burnaby, British Columbia

Presbyopia Diagnosis & Treatment

Proudly serving the Burnaby, Surrey, New Westminster, Vancouver, and surrounding areas for 4 years.

What is Presbyopia?

As we reach middle age, particularly after age 40, it is common to start to experience difficulty with reading and performing other tasks that require near vision. This is because with age, the lens of our eye becomes increasingly inflexible.

This makes it much harder to focus on close objects. Unlike a true eye disease, this condition is so common, it eventually happens to almost everyone who reaches old age, to some extent.

Causes Of Presbyopia

Causes Of Presbyopia

During our youth, the lens of our eye and the muscles that control it are flexible and soft, allowing us to focus on close objects and shift focus from close to distant objects without difficulty.

As the eye ages however, both the lens and the muscle fibers begin to harden, making near vision a greater challenge.

Presbyopia is a natural result of the aging process and not much can be done to prevent it. Its onset has nothing to do with whether you already have another vision impairment such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.

Everyone will notice some degree of loss of near vision focusing power as they age, although for some it will be more significant than others.

Symptoms and Signs of Presbyopia

Symptoms And Signs Of Presbyopia

Symptoms begin around the age of 40 when you begin to see people with untreated presbyopia holding books, magazines, newspapers, and menus at arm’s length in order to focus properly and avoid eye strain.

Trying to performing tasks at close range can sometimes cause headaches, eye strain or fatigue in individuals who have developed this condition.

Other symptoms include headaches or fatigue when trying to focus on something at close range.

Presbyopia is characterized by:

  • Difficulty focusing on small print
  • Blurred near vision
  • Experiencing eyestrain, fatigue or headaches when doing close work or reading
  • Needing to hold reading material or small objects at a distance to focus properly
  • Requiring brighter lighting when focusing on near objects

Presbyopia can be diagnosed in a comprehensive eye exam.

Treatment For Presbyopia

The most common form of treatment for presbyopia is wearing reading glasses, bifocals or progressive lenses. Bifocal and multifocals are also available in contact lenses for those who prefer to be glasses-free.

A third option, however, is a number of surgical procedures that allow you the freedom of correcting your near vision without the use of glasses or contact lenses.

Eyeglasses

Reading glasses or “readers” are basically magnifying glasses that are worn when reading or doing close work that allow you focus on close objects.

Eyeglasses with bifocal or multifocal lenses such as progressive addition lenses or PALs are a common solution for those with presbyopia that also have refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism). Bifocals have lenses with two lens prescriptions; one area (usually the upper portion) for distance vision and the second area for near vision.

Progressive addition lenses or PALs similarly provide lens power for both near and distance vision but rather than being divided into two hemispheres, they are made with a gradual transition of lens powers for viewing at different distances.  Many individuals prefer PALs because unlike bifocals, they do not have a visible division line on the lens.

Bifocal and Multifocal Contact Lenses

For individuals that prefer contact lenses to glasses, bifocal and multifocal lenses are also available in contact lenses in both soft and Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) varieties.

Multifocal contact lenses give you added freedom over glasses and they allow you to be able to view any direction - up, down and to the sides - with similar vision. People wearing progressive lenses in glasses on the other hand have to look over their glasses if they want to view upwards or into the distance.

Another option for those who prefer contact lenses is monovision. Monovision splits your distance and near vision between your eyes, using your dominant eye for distance vision and your non-dominant  eye for near vision.

Typically you will use single vision lenses in each eye however sometimes the dominant eye will use a single vision lens while a multifocal lens will be used in the other eye for intermediate and near vision. This is called modified monovision.  Your eye doctor will perform a test to determine which type of lens is best suited for each eye and optimal vision.

Surgery

There are surgical procedures also available for treatment of presbyopia including monovision LASIK eye surgery, conductive keratoplasty (CK), corneal inlays or onlays or a refractive lens exchange (RLE) which replaces the hardened lens in the eye with an intraocular lens (IOL) similar to cataract surgery.

Since it affects so much of the older population, much research and development is going into creating more and better options for presbyopes. Speak to your eye doctor about the options that will work best for you.

LASIK

Monovision LASIK

Monovision is a technique that began with presbyopia-correcting contact lenses designed for individuals with presbyopia and nearsightedness or astigmatism. Each eye gets a different lens power – one lens is used in the dominant eye to correct for distance vision and the other for near vision. The eyes adapt to the two lens powers by learning to use the appropriate eye for the necessary distance power.

Monovision LASIK surgery is based on the same principle of correcting each eye for a different refractive power and has shown just as high if not higher success rates than the contact lens technique. Usually, patients will try out monovision with contacts first to ensure that it works and that the eyes adapt properly.

PresbyLASIK

PresbyLASIK is a procedure that is currently available in Canada and Europe and undergoing clinical trials in the United States. As opposed to monovision LASIK, this procedure is a multifocal alternative in which different rings of refractive power are created on the cornea, similar to multifocal lenses. This provides vision correction at all distances simultaneously.

Conductive Keratoplasty (CK)

Conductive Keratoplasty uses radio waves via a hand-held instrument to mold the corneal surface to improve near vision. The procedure can be done on one eye using the monovision principle and is a good solution for those that do not need vision correction for nearsightedness or astigmatism. The effects of CK, however are not permanent and the improvement in near vision will diminish over time.

Corneal Inlays or Onlays

Corneal inlays and onlays involve surgically implanting a small lens into the eye to increase focus and near vision. The distinction between inlays and onlays is in where the lens is placed on the eye.

Refractive Lens Exchange

In refractive lens exchange the eye’s hardened lens is replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL) to provide multifocal vision. This surgery is similar to and often done in conjunction with cataract surgery.