Presbyopia: Dealing with Vision after 40 years of age

“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” goes a pertinent saying. This is especially true for your ability to see clearly. As you cross 40 you observe a number of changes in your body. You might not be as agile as you were 10 years back, your knees might just begin to hurt a little. Another noticeable change is difficulty in focusing on near objects. You will experience blurred vision while reading, working on a computer or
sewing. You will suddenly start feeling the need to adjust the position of your newspaper, book or smartphone and hold it at arm’s length to be able to see clearly.

A natural occurrence, presbyopia (literally meaning ‘ageing eye’) will eventually happen to everyone typically around age 40, whether you are short-sighted, farsighted or have perfect vision. People with presbyopia will no longer have clear vision at all distances and near vision, blurring occurs even if they are wearing their regular glasses or contact lenses. So, your old spectacles will no longer suffice for all needs.

If you are worried, do not be. Presbyopia is not as scary as it sounds and the good news is that it can be easily managed with the right spectacle lenses.

A 2008 study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology estimated that over 1 billion people across the world had vision problem due to presbyopia. This number is expected to rise up to 1.4 billion by 2020 and to 1.8 billion by 2050. Unfortunately, more than half of the people currently living with presbyopia have no access to corrective spectacles; a bulk of this population with uncorrected presbyopia lives in developing countries like India.

What causes presbyopia?
Much like osteoarthritis is caused by age-related depletion of cartilage from the bones, presbyopia is caused by the ageing ofthe lenses in the eye. When we are younger, the lenses inside our eyes are more flexible with a greater ability to adjust focus at all distances. However with age, the lens tends to become more rigid and hardened, losing its ability to change its shape and focus easily. This causes progressive worsening of the eye’s ability to focus on near distance objects.

Presbyopia affects productivity
While long distance vision impairment is often talked about as a cause of lost productivity, near distance vision impairment due to presbyopia is often not given enough importance. Some people argue that since reading gets affected by presbyopia, people who are illiterate or involved in blue collar jobs may not feel the discomfort. However, this is a myth. Not just for reading or working on computers, near vision quality is also essential in a number of other jobs such as sewing and tailoring, weeding, repairing objects, and performing household chores like sorting grain or cooking.

A bulk of the productivity loss happens in low income countries where a majority of presbyopia cases remain uncorrected or under-corrected. A global correction of all poor vision including that caused by presbyiopia could potentially lead to a 35% increase in productivity and a 20% increase in monthly income in the developing world, according to the Essilor Vision Impact Institute.

Solutions to Manage Presbyopia
Fortunately, there are enough solutions to manage presbyopia. A discussion with your doctor will help you decide on the right solution depending on your lifestyle and severity of the condition, this may be simple reading glasses Bi-Focals or progressive lenses .

Reading Glasses: Reading glasses are often used by presbyopes. An ideal reading glass helps you so you do not have to stretch your arms while  reading. However, reading glasses cant help you see in the far distance, and therefore either you have  to peep over your glasses or remove them completely when looking at objects which are far away. Therefore, people using reading glasses have to keep two pair of glasses -- one for reading; the other Far vision

Bifocal lenses: A 300 year old technology.Each bifocal lens is visibly divided – the top part of the lens provides clear distance vision, while a portion of the lens at the bottom provides clear near vision Because a bifocal has 2 lenses fused together hence wearers might experience a vision jump..  This is especially pertinent when climbing down stairs.

It is also important to note that because bifocal lenses do not provide clear vision for intermediate distances They also reveal your age.

Progressive lenses: Progressive lensesare the best solution Progressive lenses such as Essilor’s Varilux are a modern solution for correction of Presbyopia.

They are easy to manage and enable a smooth and seamless transition between different distances. They remove the ‘image jump’ or jerk factor common in bifocals and offer a clear ability to read a book, view your computer, see clearly across the room without any jump or discomfort.

Backed by many years of research, progressive lenses are an established option that is more convenient. Created using new patented technology and the finest craftsmanship the latest generation of Varilux® lenses offer naturally sharper and clearer vision even in low light conditions, in a way that feels natural and effortless, without adding years to your look.

While presbyopia cannot be prevented, it does not have to get in the way of living life to the fullest. More importantly, it should not stop you from finding new ways to express your sense of style. With this year’s upcoming beauty trends heading towards big, bright colors and daring new looks, it is the perfect time to rejuvenate your image and stay focused with Varilux!

-Ramachandran P, 
Group COO, 
Essilor India

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