The often frustrating and universal age-related need for reading glasses
Who gets presbyopia?
Presbyopia is a part of the natural ageing process of the eye that starts being noticeable at around 45 years of age and affects nearly everyone by the time they reach 50 years of age. 1.8 billion people around the world (25%) have presbyopia.1
YOU HAVE BLURRY VISION, ESPECIALLY FOR CLOSE OBJECTS
If you have presbyopia, and already wear glasses for another reason, your glasses prescription will get an ADD (that is typically expressed as a positive number – a “plus” sign, or +). This indicates the degree of presbyopia you have, which expresses how much you experience blurry and distorted vision. In general, the further away from zero the number on your ADD, the worse your eyesight and the more vision correction you need. If you’ve worn glasses before, you may now need varifocals or an additional pair of reading glasses. If you have never worn glasses before, you’ll now need reading glasses.
YOU MIGHT FEEL HEADACHES AND EYESTRAIN AFTER READING OR CLOSE WORK
Uncorrected, your presbyopia can be bothersome. You might have difficulty reading small print, even with reading glasses on. You might experience fatigue from doing close work. You may find you need brighter lighting when reading. You may need to hold screens at an arm’s length distance to focus properly on it. Fortunately, glasses and contact lenses can correct presbyopia. Unfortunately, you may dislike the way your glasses look or feel. Furthermore, they may interfere with your ability to easily switch from distance to near vision tasks.
A DAY IN A LIFE WITH PRESBYOPIA
For those with ageing eyes, the need for reading glasses may signal the onset of middle age. This can be a troubling time because your body and mindset might feel as young as they did in your 30s, but your eyes no longer keep up. Now, you feel dependent on glasses, which may be a feeling you’ve never experienced. You may feel annoyed and frustrated at always needing to bring your reading glasses with you. Putting them on and off and on and off may feel like a daily chore. Losing them may be a constant annoyance. Being without them may feel debilitating.
YOU DON’T FEEL YOU LOOK AS YOUNG AS YOU FEEL
We’re not getting any younger, but that doesn’t mean we want to have to pull out the granny glasses every time we want to read the text on our phones.
DON’T ACCEPT LIMITATIONS
You might feel as fit as you did in your 20s and 30s, so there’s no reason why your eyes shouldn’t be able to keep up. These days, we spend so much time switching between looking at things up close and seeing things far away – why allow your reading glasses to get in the way?
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Supplementary information about Presbyopia
In my expert hands, you certainly don’t need to know all of the information I’ve included in the toggles below. If you’d like to know how it all works, however, open them and learn more.
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About the author
Mr Alex J. Shortt | Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
MB BCh MSc PhD FRCOphth PGDipCatRef
I’m Alex Shortt, a highly trained academic researcher and Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon based in London’s famous Harley Street medical district. I trained and worked as a consultant for 14 years at London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital. I specialise in advanced technologies for correcting vision, including stem cell cataract surgery, implantable contact lenses and laser vision correction.