A survey by Specsavers, in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), recently revealed that nearly every family in Britain is touched by sight problems in some way.

In light of these findings, Haverhill store director, Raju Fynn, has shared his advice on how to watch out for one of the most common eye conditions, presbyopia. 

What is presbyopia?

As we get older it is common for us to lose close-sightedness. Most people begin to notice the condition in their 40s. The eye lens stiffens with age, so it is less able to focus when viewing something up close. 

What causes the condition?

Presbyopia is an age-related process. It is believed to begin by a gradual thickening and loss of flexibility in the natural lens inside the eye. The changes occur within the proteins in the lens, making the lens tougher and lose elasticity gradually.

Age-related changes also take place in the muscle fibres surrounding the lens. With less elasticity, the eye has a harder time focusing up close. 

How can I tell if I have presbyopia?

Presbyopia is the normal loss of near-focusing ability that occurs with age. Most people begin to notice the effects of presbyopia sometime after age 40, when they start having trouble seeing small print clearly when reading.

Even if you can still see pretty well up close, presbyopia can cause headaches, eye strain and visual fatigue that makes reading and other near vision tasks less comfortable and more tiring.

How is it treated?

There are various ways the condition can be treated. 

  • Glasses – Glasses with ‘progressive lenses’ are the most common solution for presbyopia for most people over 40. The line-free multifocal lenses restore clear near vision and at all distances, even if you are near-sighted, far-sighted or suffer from an astigmatism. It’s worth considering anti-reflective coating prevents distracting reflections that can cause eye strain.
  • Contact lenses – Multifocal contact lenses are advised when using contact lenses to correct presbyopia. You can also opt for monovision lenses, whereby one eye wears a distance prescription and the other wears a prescription for near vision. 

How can I prevent/reduce my risk of the condition?

Unfortunately you can’t prevent presbyopia, as it comes on naturally as a result of age. However, you can help delay the onset of the condition and protect your overall eye health in several ways such as: 

  • Having regular eye tests - On average, adults should have an eye test every two years.
  • Protect your eyes from UV rays - Always ensure your glasses have a CE kite mark and sunglasses are marked UV400.
  • Prevent eye injuries – Wear protective eyewear when playing sports, working in an industrial environment and any other environment where you could damage your eyesight.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet – Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Use the right glasses – Regular eye tests will ensure that your prescription is correct.
  • If you have any concerns about your eyesight, see an optician immediately – Symptoms such as sudden loss of vision in one eye, hazy or blurred vision, flashes of light or black spots could indicate a more serious medical problem. 

If you are concerned that you or someone you know is suffering from an eye condition, book a sight test – they generally take 20 minutes and could save your sight. 

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