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Presbyopia is a vision condition in which it becomes difficult to see up close. It occurs in people age 40 and older and is a natural part of the aging process of the eye. For many years, people over the age of 40 wore bifocal eyeglasses to correct both distance and near vision. Today there are new options to correct presbyopia.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
As people age, the crystalline lens of the eye loses flexibility, which makes it difficult for you to focus on close objects. Presbyopia is not a disease, and cannot be prevented.
This is a technique that corrects one eye for distance vision and one eye for near vision. The brain learns to look through the appropriate lens for the distance at which the person is seeing. This has been accomplished with contact lenses. Now it is being accomplished with Laser Vision Correction (one eye is corrected for distance, the other for near), although it is not yet available in the U.S.
This is performed using a probe thinner than a strand of human hair, which releases radio waves to shrink tissue and increases the curvature of the cornea. The increased curvature restores reading vision. The procedure requires use of an eye drop anesthetic and can be performed in a few minutes in a doctor's office. It's typically performed in only one eye to improve near vision (monovision). It takes about a month for the visual correction to stablize after the procedure.
IMPLANTABLE CONTACT LENSES
These are similar to the intraocular lenses implanted during cataract surgery. In a procedure called a "clear lensectomy," the natural lens is removed and replaced with a multifocal intraocular lens that corrects vision much like bifocal glasses do. The best candidates for lens implant surgery are people with moderate amounts myopia (nearsightedness) and presbyopia, and people with presbyopia only.
LASER PRESBYOPIA REVERSAL
This procedure involves eight tiny laser incisions in the sclera, the white of the eye. This allows the lens to expand and enables the eye to focus at different distances. People who have had this procedure say they can read without glasses within an hour of surgery. This procedure is in clinical trials in the U.S., and is not yet available.
SCLERAL EXPANSION BANDS
This is another procedure under investigation. A surgeon places four tiny plastic devices inside the white of the eye, encircling the colored part, known as the iris. The devices push up or stretch the white of the eye, leaving more room for the muscles underneath to work. This procedure is in clinical trials in the U.S., and is not yet available.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Because of the potential market for any type of presbyopia correction is huge, researchers are working on this all the time. Discuss your interest in new forms of correction with your eye doctor. Stay informed about new developments reported in the news media, and check with our office to learn more about any new techniques or procedures.