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Presbyopia

Presbyopia is a slow loss of ability to see close objects or small print. It is normal to have this as you get older. People with presbyopia often have headaches or strained, tired eyes. Reading glasses usually fix the problem.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute for Aging)

About Presbyopia

Presbyopia is a common type of vision disorder that occurs as you age. It is often referred to as the aging eye condition. Presbyopia results in the inability to focus up close, a problem associated with refraction in the eye.

Can I have presbyopia and another refractive error at the same time?

Yes. It is common to have presbyopia and another type of refractive error at the same time. There are several other types of refractive errors: myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.

What is refraction?

Refraction is the bending of light as it passes through one object to another. Vision occurs when light rays are bent (refracted) by the cornea and lens. The light is then focused directly on the retina, which is a light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The retina converts the light-rays into messages that are sent through the optic nerve to the brain. The brain interprets these messages into the images we see.

How does presbyopia occur?

Presbyopia happens naturally in people as they age. The eye is not able to focus light directly on to the retina due to the hardening of the natural lens. Aging also affects muscle fibers around the lens making it harder for the eye to focus on up close objects. The ineffective lens causes light to focus behind the retina, causing poor vision for objects that are up close.

When you are younger, the lens of the eye is soft and flexible, allowing the tiny muscles inside the eye to easily reshape the lens to focus on close and distant objects.

Who is at risk for presbyopia?

Anyone over the age of 35 is at risk for developing presbyopia. Everyone experiences some loss of focusing power for near objects as they age, but some will notice this more than others. NIH - National Eye Institute

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Accommodative intraocular lenses compared with monofocal intraocular lenses in cataract surgery

Accommodation is the ability of the eye to focus on both distant and near objects.

Screening for Visual Impairment in Older Adults: Systematic Review to Update the 1996 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation [Internet]

Impaired visual acuity is common in older adults. Screening for impaired visual acuity in primary care settings could identify older adults who are unaware of or do not report vision problems, and lead to interventions to improve vision, function and quality of life.

Surveillance for Ocular Hypertension: An Evidence Synthesis and Economic Evaluation

To determine effective and efficient monitoring criteria for ocular hypertension [raised intraocular pressure (IOP)] through (i) identification and validation of glaucoma risk prediction models; and (ii) development of models to determine optimal surveillance pathways.

See all (4)

Summaries for consumers

Accommodative intraocular lenses compared with monofocal intraocular lenses in cataract surgery

Accommodation is the ability of the eye to focus on both distant and near objects.

Terms to know

Cornea
The transparent part of the eye that covers the iris and the pupil and allows light to enter the inside.
Lens in the Eye
A clear disk that focuses light, as in a camera or microscope. In the eye, the lens is a clear, curved structure at the front of the eye behind the pupil. It focuses light rays that enter the eye through the pupil, making an image on the retina (light-sensitive layers of nerve tissue at the back of the eye).
Refractive Error
A defect in the focusing of light on the retina.
Retina
The light-sensitive tissue lining at the back of the eye. The retina converts light into electrical impulses that are sent to the brain through the optic nerve.

More about Presbyopia

Photo of an adult

Other terms to know: See all 4
Cornea, Lens in the Eye, Refractive Error

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