Eyesight by age 3 min read

Myopia Over 40: Can You Also Develop Presbyopia?

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Have you noticed your eyesight getting worse when trying to read a book or a text on your phone; or perhaps you have started to struggle to read a restaurant menu? It could be a natural change known as presbyopia, and it is very common as you reach your 40s and 50s.

Is your close up vision declining?

If you already have myopia, also known as short-sightedness, it is likely that you wear glasses to help see far-away objects clearly. Natural ageing of the eye becomes noticeable around 40 years of age, a simple sign is starting to lose the ability to see close up text. This is known as presbyopia and can be a little disheartening, but it may be comforting to know that losing the ability to see close-up objects clearly affects nearly everyone.

Both myopia and presbyopia are known as refractive errors and can occur when something changes with the structure of your eye. If you think you are experiencing both, you aren’t the only one going through it.

How does presbyopia happen?

Presbyopia, also known as age-related long-sightedness or far-sightedness, is a normal part of ageing. It can happen even if you already have myopia because presbyopia is typically caused by loss of flexibility of the crystalline lens in the eye, while myopia is caused by the shape of your eye.

The eye's natural lens is responsible for evenly refracting light and focusing it on to the right part of the retina, the part of the eye responsible for seeing light and images. The eye's lens can change its shape to bring objects at different distances into focus, a bit like adjusting the focus of your camera lens. As you get older, you might experience a decline in the lens’ ability to do this. This is known as presbyopia.

The lens loses its flexibility, and the muscle around the eye becomes weaker. This means your lens isn’t able to focus as easily, and you will notice your close-up objects appear a little blurry.

Can you have both myopia and presbyopia?

Presbyopia can affect everyone, no matter the current condition of your eyesight, but it is easily managed through wearing glasses for presbyopia. You might experience signs like blurred vision or poor vision in low lit conditions.

Do you often have to hold things at a distance to see them better? Do you suffer from headaches or eye strain that make reading, or other close-up activities, less comfortable? This could indicate symptoms of presbyopia. It is a separate eye condition to myopia and you can have both.

However, if you have myopia and begin to develop presbyopia, you might not notice it straight away. Myopia means the image of an object forms in front of the retina, the part of the eye responsible for seeing light and objects, but in presbyopia, the image is formed behind the retina. Both issues can compensate, and you might temporarily feel as though your vision is actually improving, but this is just part of the process and you will still need glasses to retain sharp, comfortable vision at near and far distances.

The best way to know for sure is to visit your local optician. Both presbyopia and myopia can be identified easily during a routine eye examination.

How do you treat presbyopia?

Currently, there is no way of preventing presbyopia from happening in the first place, but there are simple measures you can take to manage it.

If you already wear glasses for short-sightedness, your optician will now recommend you varifocal lenses, also known as progressive lenses. These are a very popular solution if you struggle with both myopia and presbyopia.

One of the best things about varifocal glasses is that they do not display the line across the lens to separate the different vision zones, like bifocal lenses, which many people often associate with being "old". Instead, it is a gradual change in your prescription across your three vision zones; near, mid and far.

Whether you have both myopia and presbyopia, or just one of these conditions, it is very straightforward to manage. At Essilor, we have a number of innovative lens solutions to correct your vision, such as our range of Varifocal lenses called Varilux. Remember to visit your optician regularly, so that they can pick up on any changes in your eyesight and ensure you're still wearing the right lenses for your eyes.

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