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Presbyopia

Multifocal Contact Lenses For People Over 40

If your 40th birthday has come and gone, you may have started to notice some changes in your vision. You might find yourself holding written material further away from your face in order to clearly read the fine print, or have a harder time adjusting your focus from distant objects to near ones.

The inability to see things clearly at various distances can be frustrating.   

Fortunately, this problem can be solved by wearing multifocal contact lenses. Below, we’ll explain the cause and symptoms of presbyopia, along with the many benefits of wearing multifocal contact lenses.

What Is Presbyopia? 

Presbyopia is the natural and gradual loss of your eyes’ ability to focus on near objects. 

The crystalline lens in your eye focuses light onto the retina, and it adapts its shape depending on what you focus on. From infancy until your late 30s or early 40s, the lens is usually clear, thin and very flexible, allowing fast adjustments for sharp vision at all distances.

From age 40-50 the lens becomes considerably thicker and much less flexible. This makes it harder for the lens to change shape and to accurately refract light when focusing on near objects. 

This farsightedness can be easily corrected with reading glasses, bifocal or multifocal glasses, monovision contact lenses, as well as multifocal contact lenses. 

Multifocal Contact Lenses for Presbyopia

Multifocal contact lenses contain multiple lens powers to provide vision correction for different visual zones so you can clearly see objects that are in the distance, nearby and everything in between. 

Certain multifocal contact lenses have 2 lens powers (bifocals), for near and distance vision, and others have a more gradual power change, similar to progressive lenses. These contact lenses can be made using soft materials or rigid gas-permeable materials, and are available as daytime or extended night-wear lenses. 

Note that multifocal contact lenses are not perfect for all situations and some patients may need to try several brands or designs before finding one that works well for them. To spare you the confusion, your optometrist will guide you towards the ones best suited to your eyes and lifestyle needs. 

To discover options beyond reading glasses, call Brooks Eye Center in Columbus to schedule your contact lens consultation today!

Q&A: 

#1: Are there any “cons” related to wearing multifocal contact lenses? 

Many multifocal contact lenses use a “simultaneous vision” design that allows seeing far and near simultaneously through concentric zones. Some people have problems adapting to this, noticing hazy vision and less contrast than single vision lenses. You can ask your optometrist to be fit with multifocal lenses and get a test run” or trial period.  

#2: When does presbyopia stabilize?

Most people will start to develop age-related vision changes starting in their early to mid-40s. At around 60 years of age, your eyesight will begin to stabilize and you’ll notice less of a need to update your lens prescription. Nonetheless, yearly comprehensive eye exams at this age are more important than ever, as they enable your eye doctor to detect potential eye conditions and diseases early on. 

8 Ways Your Eyes Change With Age

Our eyes and vision change with age .Your eye doctor can monitor these changes โ€” some of which are a natural part of the aging process โ€” and identify any eye conditions or diseases early enough to treat them and prevent vision loss. Read on to learn more about the different types of eye changes one may encounter with age.

Age-Related Eye Conditions and Diseases

Cataracts

If your vision is starting to get blurry, you may be developing cataracts. There are a few types of cataracts, but the one usually caused by aging is known as a “nuclear cataract”. At first, it may lead to increased nearsightedness or even a temporary improvement in your reading vision. But with time, the lens gradually turns more densely yellow and clouds your vision. As the cataract slowly progresses, the lens may even turn brown. Advanced yellowing or browning of the lens can lead to difficulty distinguishing between shades of color, and left untreated, it can eventually lead to blindness. Luckily, cataract surgery, where the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear lens, is an extremely safe and effective treatment option.

Blepharoptosis

Blepharoptosis or ptosis is a drooping of the upper eyelid that may affect one or both eyes. The eyelid may droop only slightly or may droop enough to cover the pupil and block vision. It occurs when there is a weakness of the eye’s levator muscle that lifts the eyelid. This condition is usually caused by aging, eye surgery, or disease affecting the muscle or its nerve. Fortunately, blepharoptosis can be corrected with surgery.

Vitreous detachment

This occurs when the gel-like vitreous fluid inside the eye begins to liquefy and pull away from the retina, causing “spots and floaters” and, sometimes, flashes of light. This occurrence is usually harmless, but floaters and flashes of light can also signal the beginning of a detached retina โ€” a serious problem that can cause blindness, and requires immediate treatment. If you experience sudden or worsening flashes and increased floaters, see Dr. Brooks immediately to determine the cause.

Other Age-Related Changes

In addition to the above eye conditions and diseases, the structure of our eyes and vision change as we get older.

Presbyopia

Why do people in their 40s and 50s have more difficulty focusing on near objects like books and phone screens? The lens inside the eye begins to lose its ability to change shape and bring near objects into focus, a process is called presbyopia. Over time, presbyopia, also known as age-related farsightedness, will become more pronounced and you will eventually need reading glasses to see clearly. You may need multiple prescriptions – one prescription to enable you to see up close, one for intermediate distance, and one for distance vision. In that case, people often get bifocals, multifocals or PALs, and they can be combined with contact lenses as well.

Reduced pupil size

As we age, our reaction to light and the muscles that control our pupil size lose some strength. This causes the pupil to become smaller and less responsive to changes in ambient lighting. The result? It becomes harder to clearly see objects, such as a menu, in a low-light setting like a restaurant.

Dry eye

Our tear glands produce fewer tears and the tears they produce have less moisturizing oils. Your eye doctor can determine whether your dry eye is age-related or due to another condition, and will recommend the right over-the-counter or prescription eye drops, or other effective and lasting treatments, to alleviate the dryness and restore comfort.

Loss of peripheral vision

Aging causes a 1-3 degree loss of peripheral vision per decade of life. In fact, one may reach a peripheral visual field loss of 20-30 degrees by the time they reach their 70s and 80s. While peripheral vision loss is a normal part of aging, it can also indicate the presence of a serious eye disease, like glaucoma. The best way to ascertain the cause is by getting an eye exam.

Decreased color vision

The cells in the retina responsible for normal color vision tend to decline as we age, causing colors to become less bright and the contrast between different colors to be less noticeable. Though a normal part of aging, faded colors can at times signal a more serious ocular problem.

Beyond the normal changes that come with age, the risk of developing a serious eye disease, such as age related macular degeneration and glaucoma, increases. Routine eye exams are essential to keeping your eyes healthy. Your eye doctor can determine whether your symptoms are caused by an eye problem or are a normal byproduct of aging.

If you or a loved one suffers from impaired vision, we can help. To find out more and to schedule your annual eye doctor’s appointment, contact Brooks Eye Center in Columbus today.