Presbyopia is the deterioration of eyesight due to the aging process. Muscles within the lens weaken over time, making the lens harden and less elastic. This means the muscles are unable to contract as necessary making focusing on near or close-up objects difficult.
What are the Signs of Presbyopia?
People with presbyopia find it trickier to read at a normal distance as blurring occurs. Often they find they have to hold reading material at arm’s length in order to focus.
Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty in focusing from distance to near.
- Computer, telephone and other close-up work causes eye strain, fatigue and headaches.
This deterioration usually occurs after the age of 40 and is a slow process which can sometimes go undetected unless regular sight tests are undertaken.
It is recommended people visit an optician every 2 years to check for presbyopia and even more frequently if any other symptoms occur.
Generally, the first action to be taken is for the optician to prescribe reading glasses.
However, sometimes vision can differ between both eyes, as they don’t necessarily deteriorate at the same rate. Also, a patient may be short-sighted so bifocals or varifocals may be prescribed. These work by having a dual lens within one eye piece. The upper part being for near sight and the lower for distance.
As well as using glasses, surgery may be an option. Whilst this corrects presbyopia vision at that time, eventually, due to ageing, glasses will be required or another surgical procedure undertaken.
There are a few options available to temporarily assist the process of presbyopia.
One of these is the relatively new procedure of monovision.
What Is Monovision?
When looking at an object, most people’s eyes use binocular vision. This occurs when both eyes work together, giving a good range of depth perception when sending messages to the brain.
People with presbyopia usually have one more dominant eye for sight (long vision). This is where monovision comes into practice. By ensuring one eye sees at distance and the other has near vision, messages will be sent to the brain to replicate binocular vision.
What Surgery Is Available?
Monovision with LASIK surgery is used by some surgeons to correct one eye to good vision, leaving the non-dominant eye for close-up/near vision.
Another option that surgeons use during monovision with LASIK surgery is to correct both eyes, one at distance and the other near, creating the monovision effect.
Many opthalmists will first recommend trialling prescriptive contact lenses before opting for surgery to check suitability and personal adaption to monovision.
Conductive Keratoplasty (CK) uses a tiny probe producing radio waves to shrink the collagen on the cornea, steepening and tightening its curvature. Surgery is usually carried out the non-dominant eye (near vision). This procedure can also be carried out using a mild laser heat (Laser Thermal Keratoplasty or LTK).
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is generally used for cataract surgery but is also becoming more popular for presbyopia correction due to technological advances. It involves removing the eye’s natural lens and replacing it with an artificial one.
The Cost Of Treating Presbyopia?
What prescription the patient requires pays a contributing factor to the costs of laser eye surgery for presbyopia.
RLE costs start from £1,500 per eye and LASIK ranges from £1,000 to £3,000 per eye depending on the level of prescription and which LASIK surgery the patient opts for.
Prices should be explained fully at your initial consultation with an ophthalmic surgeon and some clinics offer finance options to help spread the cost.
Risk And Complications
The main risk after surgery is infection but this can usually be easily treated with antibiotic drops.
Even with surgery the patient may still need to wear glasses or have a further corrective procedure to fully correct vision.
As presbyopia is caused by the eye’s natural aging, even with surgery it remains a progressive condition which may also require glasses or surgery in the future.