Presbyopia is a common vision problem that affects nearly every adult at some point after the age of 40. When a person develops presbyopia, it becomes increasingly difficult to see objects up close. Reading labels and print in books and magazines may not be possible without the use of reading glasses. Since the condition is nearly inevitable, it is important that we discuss how it can be treated. At Shenandoah LASIK & Cataract Center in Winchester, VA, we provide a few different services that provide a longer-term solution for clearer vision. Here, we review some of the common ways in which presbyopia may be treated.
Typically, when presbyopia develops, people first turn to reading glasses. This is a safe and convenient way to manage the condition. Reading glasses can be purchased at pretty much any drugstore. When distance vision is good, reading glasses can be the ideal option for managing vision with presbyopia. Keep in mind, though, that commercial reading glasses only provide up-close vision. If distance vision is also blurry or otherwise distorted, the ophthalmologist would recommend bifocals.
Refractive Lens Exchange
Eyeglasses can be convenient in many instances but, over time, some people get tired of the feeling of glasses on the bridge of their nose. They may find it difficult to really get clear vision even with eyeglasses, or may simply start to find it rather inconvenient to have to keep track of where they last set their eyeglasses down. Over time, many people who wear eyeglasses for presbyopia amass numerous pairs. As an alternative, some people consider a more long-term treatment. Refractive Lens Exchange, RLE, is it. This minor eye procedure is nearly the same process we use to treat cataracts. During the brief surgery, performed with a local anesthetic, the ophthalmologist removes the natural lens of the eye and inserts an artificial lens in its place. The intraocular lens corrects the refractive error, restoring clear up-close vision without the need for eyeglasses. We offer several different types of IOL and help each patient choose which is best for them based on their current vision and preferences.
What about LASIK?
Over the years, LASIK has become known as “the” laser vision correcting procedure. It has been performed millions of times over the past few decades to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The very nature of LASIK would seem highly versatile, and it is, just not for presbyopia. The reason that we do not consider LASIK for presbyopia is that the condition involves the lens of the eye. As we age, the lens of the eye gets more rigid. The lack of flexibility in the lens is what changes our vision. LASK doesn’t work on the eye’s lens, it works by reshaping the cornea. Because presbyopia is not a refractive error involving the cornea, LASIK is not an appropriate treatment option.
Another option for correcting presbyopia is to create monovision. This technique, achieved through contact lenses or vision correction surgery, corrects one eye for near vision and the other for distance. The technique works because the brain then learns to focus at different distances using only the eye customized for it, ignoring the incoming vision from the other eye.
To see your presbyopia treatment options more clearly, talk to an experienced specialist. Contact our friendly ophthalmology office at 540-722-6200.