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Presbyopia Symptoms and Treatment

Medically reviewed by Victor Paulino, MD, DPBO · Ophthalmology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos · Updated Dec 29, 2020

Presbyopia Symptoms and Treatment

What is presbyopia and what do you need to know about this condition? This article will look into the basic things that you should know about this unique eye condition – from presbyopia symptoms and treatment, and its causes. 

What is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia is the condition where the eyes lose the ability to see things clearly when up close. The name of the condition comes from the Greek expression that means “old eye,” because it comes with age. It is relatively normal for older people to develop the condition.

If you are 40 years or older, you might have noticed that you are having difficulty seeing things when they are close. 

Overall Eye Health: All You Need to Know

Presbyopia Symptoms and Treatment

So, what are the symptoms of presbyopia?

The main symptom of presbyopia, of course, is the gradual loss of the ability to focus one’s vision on objects that are nearby. Here are additional symptoms that you might notice when you reach the age of 40 or older:

  1. You start holding reading materials farther away from your face just so you can read them.
  2. Your vision is blurry when you are reading at the normal distance that you used to.
  3. Headaches may occur after you read.
  4. You notice that all the other symptoms get worse when you are in a dark room or when you are tired.
  5. You often have to squint in order to see more clearly.

It is easy to confuse presbyopia with hyperopia, which is another name for farsightedness. But these are two different conditions that have common symptoms. In both conditions, objects that are far away may appear clearer than objects that are nearer. Hyperopia has a different cause than presbyopia and so its treatment is very different.

Causes of Presbyopia 

This condition actually comes with age. When you are younger, the suspensory ligaments around your eye are very elastic. They can adjust quite easily with the help of the muscles surrounding the eye. Those muscles reshape the lens of the eye to adjust to what you are looking at.

Unfortunately, as you grow older, the muscles controlling accommodations of your eyes become less flexible. That means your lens will have less ability to focus as it cannot change its shape quite easily. Because of that, your eye will have less ability to focus light.

What are the Risk Factors for Presbyopia? 

Obviously, the biggest risk factor involved with presbyopia is age. Most people will see some decline in the ability of the eyes to focus when they reach 40 years old. Sometimes younger people will develop presbyopia as well because of drugs or disease. 

Here are some conditions that  can increase the risk factor of developing presbyopia:

  • Anemia
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Farsightedness
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Eye trauma
  • Poor blood flow
  • Some drugs will also increase the chances of developing presbyopia. Those drugs include alcohol, antidepressants, antihistamines, and antipsychotics. Females also have a higher risk of developing premature presbyopia. If you’ve had intraocular surgery (e.g. cataract removal), then you also have a higher risk of developing the condition.

    Presbyopia Diagnosis

    You should contact your doctor should you notice that you have any of the symptoms listed here, or if you are 40 years old. 

    Normally, presbyopia is diagnosed after a comprehensive eye examination. A doctor will most likely use specialized eye drops to get your pupil to dilate so your eyes can be examined properly. 

    Treatment for Presbyopia 

    As of now, there is no treatment for presbyopia. As mentioned, the condition is caused by the lenses of the eyes losing their ability to focus. There is no cure that can be used to reverse the condition since it is caused by old age. That being said, there are some treatments however that can help to minimize the effects of the symptoms of the disorder.

    1. If you did not use eyeglasses before you got diagnosed with presbyopia, then using nonprescription glasses might be enough treatment for the condition. These glasses can be bought at retail stores and they should be enough to help you read.
    2. If you cannot find the ideal nonprescription glasses, then it’s best to get prescription ones. 
    3. There are surgical options now for treating presbyopia although they do not reverse the effect completely or tier effectiveness is diminished over time.
    4. If your presbyopia is not diagnosed properly, then your eyesight will gradually decline even more as you age. You may experience difficulty in performing simple activities that you do normally in the past. It is also possible to develop presbyopia together with other eye problems. For example, it can combine with astigmatism

      Key Takeaways

      For most people, the quality of vision lost because of presbyopia can be recovered with the use of eyeglasses or even surgery. While there is no cure for the condition, it is not serious. The gradual decline of vision is something that comes with age and everyone should prepare to deal with it. Once presbyopia symptoms and treatment have been determined, you can take the necessary steps to achieve better eye health. 

      Learn more about Eye Health here. 


      Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

      Medically reviewed by

      Victor Paulino, MD, DPBO

      Ophthalmology · Makati Medical Center

      Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos · Updated Dec 29, 2020

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