What Is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia (which literally means “aging eye”) is an age-related eye condition that makes it more difficult to see very close.

When you are young, the lens in your eye is soft and flexible. The lens of the eye changes its shape easily, allowing you to focus on objects both close and far away.

After the age of 40, the lens becomes more rigid. Because the lens can’t change shape as easily as it once did, it is more difficult to read at close range. This normal condition is called presbyopia.

Since nearly everyone develops presbyopia, if a person also has myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) or astigmatism, the conditions will combine. People with myopia may have fewer problems with presbyopia.

Causes of Presbyopia

Unlike other refractive errors such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism, presbyopia is caused by an age-related process that leads to the eye’s lens losing its flexibility.
It is generally believed that as we age, changes in the lens proteins make the lens more rigid and less flexible over time. Also, muscles surrounding the lens may lose their elasticity. As the lens becomes less flexible and able to change shape as easily as it used to, the eye has a harder time focusing on close objects. This is why people over age 40 often find themselves holding reading material farther away to be able to see it clearly.

Presbyopia Symptoms

Some of the signs and symptoms of presbyopia include eyestrain, headaches or feeling tired from doing up-close work. One of the most obvious signs of presbyopia is the need to hold reading materials at arm’s length in order to focus properly.The symptoms of hyperopia (farsightedness) and presbyopia are similar, however, they are caused by different things. Hyperopia is a refractive error that occurs when the eye is shorter than normal or has a cornea (clear front window of the eye) that is too flat. As a result, light rays focus beyond the retina instead of on it. Generally, this allows you to see distant objects clearly but near objects will appear blurred. While hyperopia is usually present from birth, presbyopia develops later, usually around age 40.