Reading glasses – presbyopia2020-09-16T11:18:33+00:00


The often frustrating and universal age-related need for reading glasses
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What is presbyopia?

Presbyopia is long-sightedness caused by loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye, occurring typically in middle and old age. Fortunately, there’s a laser vision correction procedure that can help
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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.2


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Vision correction enables people of all ages to experience a richer life without spectacles or contact-lenses

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“During the procedure Dr Shortt explained what he was doing every step of the way. This really made me feel at ease and reassured throughout. He made the whole procedure very simple.”


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.

Presbyopia is the eye condition which causes people aged 45 and older to need reading glasses. The ageing of the eye’s natural lens which stiffens and loses its ability to focus causes presbyopia.

Presbyopes (people with presbyopia) gradually lose the ability to focus close up and become increasingly dependent on reading glasses. Presbyopia is a natural ageing process and progresses over time requiring stronger and stronger glasses. In some patients, the presbyopia/stiffening of the lens becomes so advanced that it also affects the distance vision.

Patients with this condition find that for the first time in their life they need to wear glasses to correct their distance vision such as for driving. This situation can come as a significant surprise and is a common trigger for patients to seek eye surgery like laser blended vision PRESBYOND™ or lens replacement (refractive lens exchange).

Can we treat presbyopia?
People have used reading glasses for centuries to relieve the symptom of presbyopia temporarily. Recent advances in laser and lens implant technology have produced exciting new treatments to free people from the need to use reading glasses. Surgical treatments are safe and effective. They have the added bonus of correcting long-sightedness, short-sightedness and astigmatism; all at the same time.

I have successfully treated patients aged 45 to 60, with no signs of cataract (clouding of the natural lens) formation, with laser blended vision PRESBYOND™ ™. I typically treat patients aged 60 and older, or younger patients with signs of early cataract formation, with lens replacement (refractive lens exchange) with multifocal lens implants.

Presbyopia is the eye condition which causes people aged 45 and older to need reading glasses.

It is caused by ageing of the eye’s natural lens which stiffens and loses its ability to focus.

Those affected gradually lose the ability to focus close up and become increasingly dependent on reading glasses.

Reading Glasses – Presbyopia symptoms and lifestyle impacts
People with presbyopia gradually lose the ability to focus close up and become increasingly dependent on reading glasses.

If you experience any of the following symptoms you likely suffer from presbyopia:

  • The need to hold your phone further away to see it clearly
  • Difficulty reading small print such as on your phone, in newspapers or magazines
  • Problems keeping clear focus when reading
  • Eye strain when reading for long periods

In some patients, the presbyopia/stiffening of the lens becomes so advanced that it also affects the distance vision.

Examination in London
The key diagnostic test in patients with presbyopia is a reading vision assessment and refraction test (a measurement of the eye’s ability to focus).

This enables me to determine how advanced the presbyopia is and what strength of reading glasses you need.

Can you prevent presbyopia?

Unfortunately not. Presbyopia is a natural ageing process and progresses over time requiring stronger and stronger glasses.

Can we treat presbyopia?

PRESBYOND laser eye surgery

This approach uses a technique called ‘blended vision’ to reset the vision in both eyes, focusing one eye for the distance and the other eye for reading.

I re-focus the dominant eye (whichever eye your brain prefers to use for looking through a gun-sight or a camera viewfinder) so that your distance and mid-range (e.g. standard television distance) vision are perfectly sharp without the need for glasses.

I correct the other, non-dominant eye so that it is perfectly in focus for mid-range and reading distance vision.

The brain then overlays the two images to give excellent vision at all ranges.

Lens replacement or Refractive Lens Exchange with multifocal lens implants

If you are over 60, you are likely to have early signs of cataract. Therefore, our treatment of choice for your presbyopia is refractive lens exchange with multifocal lens implants.

Similarly, if you are younger than 60 but your cornea is too thin for laser, or if your glasses prescription is too large for laser, then lens exchange surgery offers excellent results and freedom from needing several pairs of glasses.

This treatment involves an identical procedure to standard cataract surgery, and we combine with the implantation of a highly sophisticated multifocal lens implant to enable each eye to see distance, mid-range and reading-range vision.

This treatment gives the added benefit of simultaneously permanently treating your cataract and preventing any future vision loss from cataract.

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Even more information about the condition

I frequently write articles and publish videos to answer people’s most common questions and keep them updated on the latest developments in vision correction. Find out more below…

Can I get laser eye surgery?

If you dislike your glasses and contact lenses, you might be wondering "can I get laser eye surgery?" To find out whether you may qualify for this life-changing procedure, read on.

A clear look into the types of laser eye surgery in London

All laser eye surgery has the same general idea - a surgeon uses a laser to reshape your cornea, improving your vision. There are multiple ways a surgeon can do this, though. You need to know if you’re getting the right type of surgery. Take a look at these top types of laser eye surgery in London.

Compare presbyopia with other relevant eye conditions

Eye conditions are frequently misunderstood, so here’s a quick overview of the ones I most commonly treat


Astigmatism is an imperfection in the shape of your eye’s cornea or lens. Usually, the cornea and lens are round or spherical like a football. In eyes that have astigmatism, the cornea and or lens of the eye are oval in shape like an egg. As a result, light rays focus on a blurred oval shape on the retina rather than as a single sharp image. Learn more about astigmatism

Treatments for astigmatism


Short-sightedness is also known as Myopia.

Short-sightedness (or myopia) is an eye condition where the focusing power of the eye is too strong. For that reason, if you’re short-sighted, you need to wear negative power lenses to reduce the focusing power of the eye. Doing so brings the image of the world into focus on our retina. Learn more about short-sightedness

Treatments for short-sightedness


Long-sightedness is also known as Hyperopia and Hypermetropia.

Hyperopia or long-sightedness is an eye condition where the focusing power of the eye is too weak. For that reason, if you have long-sightedness, you need to wear positive power lenses to increase the focusing power of the eye and bring the image of the world into focus on our retina. Learn more about long-sightedness

Treatments for long-sightedness


The term “dry eye” covers many different eye conditions where an imbalance in the volume or quality of the tears results in inflammation and damage to the surface of the eye. Patients have varying degrees of dry eye symptoms from occasional discomfort and stinging to severe pain and inability to see. Learn more about dry eye…


Cataract is the term we use to describe the changes that occur when the lens of the eye loses its transparency and changes from appearing like a crystal clear window to appearing like a misted window like frosted glass. Learn more about cataract

Treatments for cataract


Keratoconus is a condition where the cornea, the front window of the eye, becomes thinner, loses its strength and begins to warp out of shape progressively. Learn more about keratoconus

Treatments for keratoconus


Recurrent corneal erosion is a painful eye condition where there are episodes of severe pain on waking which resolve over a few days to a week only to reoccur again in the future. Learn more about recurrent corneal erosion

Treatments for recurrent corneal erosion

  • Laser Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)

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 cataract surgery, implantable contact lenses and laser vision correction.

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