Presbyopia is a common eye disorder caused by aging, almost everyone will experience this problem as they begin to advance in age. In fact, nobody can escape presbyopia, even if you’ve never had eye problems before. It is a natural part of aging.
This is why this article was written, to prepare you ahead so that you will know how to slow down the progression of this disease by knowing the right foods to eat, the right lifestyle to live, and how to manage this condition. Presbyopia is normal, so to say, and it is characterized by the inability to focus on objects that are close. Many people starts noticing this condition after the age of 40, they find it difficult read books written in small prints or text messages on their phones.
Even individuals that are nearsighted will notice that their vision is blurry even when putting on their glasses or contact lenses. This condition is on the rise among aging individuals. In 2006, the U.S Census Bureau estimated that approximately 112 million American were presbyopic and this number is expected to rise to 123 million in 2020. In 2011, Market Scope, a leading vision and analytics company estimated that 1.3 billion people have presbyopia worldwide and it is expected to increase to 2.11 billion in 2020.
Even though presbyopia is normal and inevitable as we age, it is difficult to ignore it because it is a major sign of aging, it is kind of debilitating, its emotional, it’s difficult to hide or ignore and it is a significant event in everyone’s life.
People living with presbyopia are known as “presbyopes” and presbyopia means “old eye” in Greek. It is possible to have presbyopia and another eye problem. In few cases, presbyopia can occur in young people, this is known as “premature presbyopia” and it is often caused by some diseases and drugs. You will see the type of diseases and drugs under the risks factors of presbyopia.
This means that presbyopia in young adult is a sign that the individual have an underlying medical condition.
Causes of Presbyopia
Presbyopia is caused by aging and therefore, it is an age-related eye problem. It starts around the mid 40’s and gets worse around the age of 65. This condition should not be confused with farsightedness, astigmatism, and nearsightedness because they are all different.
These conditions mentioned are caused by genetic and environmental factors and the shape of the eyeball also contributes to this condition while presbyopia results from aging and it is triggered by the gradual thickening of your eye lens. It is also caused by the loss of flexibility of your eye lens. These changes happen within the proteins in your eyes and this makes your lens harder and less elastic.
Other age-related changes also take place in the muscle fibers surrounding your lens. When your lens becomes less elastic, your eyes will have a hard time focusing on close objects.
There are many risks factors for presbyopia and the first is age. This starts happening from the age of 40 years and above and everyone experiences it. It is just less severe in others.
Other risks factors are diseases like:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Cardiovascular disease
- Lyme disease
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Poor circulation of blood (vascular insufficiency)
- Myasthenia gravis, this is a disorder that affects the nerves and muscles
- High blood pressure
- Eye disease or trauma
Some prescription and non-prescription drugs can alter the ability of your eyes to focus on objects that are close, this puts even young people at a higher risks of premature presbyopia. The following drugs are risks factors:
- Anti-anxiety drugs
- Anti-depression drugs
Other factors that put one at risks of this condition are:
- Being a woman, females are more prone to this condition than their male counterparts.
- Eating an unhealthy diet, high intake of junk and unnatural foods increases your risk of presbyopia. Take healthy fruits and lots of fruits and veggies because they are rich in vitamin A.
- Living an unhealthy lifestyle, keeping late night, excessive drinking, smoking, and unhealthy eating.
- Having decompression sickness
- Having done surgery inside your eyes
Signs and Symptoms of Presbyopia
Common signs and symptoms of this eye condition are:
- Inability to focus on close objects, individuals affected by this condition will have to hold their books, phones, or whatever object far from their eyes to enable them see clearly.
- Visual fatigue
- Eye strain, especially when reading for a long period of time
- Visual tasks becomes more tiring and less comfortable
- Vision is blurry at normal reading distance
- Temporarily blurred vision when changing viewing distance
- Fatigue and headaches resulting from doing close work
- Difficulty reading small prints
- Difficulty seeing or focusing on close objects
- The need to hold reading materials at arm’s length so that you can focus well on it. Some presbyopes even complain that their arms are too short to take the book or object far from them.
- Then need for bright light when reading or doing close work.
When to See a Doctor
Make sure you see an eye doctor immediately if you notice:
- Double vision
- Sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes without pain
- Halos or black spots around light and flashes of light
- Sudden blurred or hazy vision
How Is Presbyopia Treated?
There are three main ways presbyopia is treated medically.
Use of Contact Lenses
Multifocal contact lenses are used in treating presbyopia and they are available in soft lens or gas permeable material. Monovision is another type of contact lens used in correcting presbyopia. In Monovision, one eye wears a prescription for near vision while the other eye wears a prescription for distant vision. The brain then learns to favor one eye or the other based on the tasks.
This solution works well for some people while some complain of a reduction in visual acuity or sharpness and loss of depth perception. You will have to change your contact lenses from time to time, this means that your prescription will have to increase because the human lens changes continuously as we grow older.
You can also make use of reading glasses if you wear contact lenses, this will help to make those small prints look large. Your doctor will help prescribe reading glasses that you can wear while your contacts are still in.
Use of Eyeglasses
This is one of the most popular ways to treat and manage this condition and they are many types of glasses used. The most popular solution for presbyopia for people over 40 years old is the use of eyeglasses with progressive lenses. These multifocal lenses which are line free help in restoring clear vision and enable excellent vision at all distances.
These glasses guaranty excellent vision no matter the kind of refractive errors you might be having in addition to presbyopia. Another type of eyeglass used is the bifocal lenses. They are not that common but they provide a more specific or restricted range of vision for people with presbyopia. Many people avoid this type of glasses because they have a visible bifocal line and this can show that they are aging or aged. Trifocal lenses can also be used and they are set for close, mid, and distance vision. They are available with or without visible lines.
Photochromic lenses are another type of lenses worn by presbyopes. This is because most presbyopes are more sensitive to light and glare due to the changes taking place in their eyes.These glasses get dark automatically in sunlight and they are available in both bifocal and progressive lenses. Reading glasses are another great choice of lenses and they have an advantage over others in that they would not be worn all day like progressive and bifocal lenses except you want to read.
You can choose any of these glasses to correct presbyopia but make sure that they have anti-reflective coating. This will help to eliminate reflections that can cause eye strain and distract one. Glasses with AR coating also help to increase visual clarity when driving at night and it reduces glare.
For those who don’t want to use glasses or contact lenses, there is a third option which is surgery and there are many surgical options to choose from. You have to go for a comprehensive eye exam first before you can be qualified for surgery. You can also consult with a refractive surgeon, this is a person who specializes in correcting presbyopia through surgery.
One surgical procedure that is gaining popularity is the implantation of a corneal inlay. In this surgical method, a corneal inlay is typically implemented in the cornea of an eye. This eye is not your dominant eye. This method helps to increase the depth of focus of the eye being treated and it reduces the dependency on reading glasses without affecting the acuity or acuteness of your distant vision.
Other surgical procedures are:
- Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE): This is just the same as a cataract surgery, the only difference is that the natural lens which is being replaced is not clouded yet. The surgeon selects either an accommodating IOL or a multifocal IOL to restore near vision.
- NearVision CK: In this procedure, radio frequency waves are used to change the shape of the cornea of one eye to improve your near vision.
- PresbyLASIK: This is a multifocal LASIK procedure and it is similar to wearing a multifocal contact lens. It is not yet approved for use by the FDA but it is used in Europe.
- Monovision LASIK: This surgical procedure induces the same effects as wearing a Monovision contact lens.
Complications of Presbyopia
Undiagnosed, untreated and uncorrected presbyopia can lead to many complications in your body. It makes your vision to deteriorate gradually, it affects your lifestyle overtime and it makes you unable to carry on your usual activities especially close work. It causes visual disability, eyestrain, and headaches, and it gives way for other eye problems such as nearsightedness, far sightedness, astigmatism, and even having different eye problems in each eye.
Natural Remedies for Presbyopia
There are some things you can do and eat and that can help relieve the symptoms or reduce the severity of this eye condition. Below are some of the things you can do to help yourself.
Increase your Intake of Vitamin A and Carotene-Rich Foods
These are important nutrients that are needed for proper eye health and functioning.
Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in your body and you can get it from colorful fruits and vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, pumpkins, tomatoes, apricots, winter squash, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes. Vitamin A not only protect your eyes and sharpens your vision, it also treats degenerative diseases of the retina. It slows down the progression of diabetic neuropathy of the eyes.
Wear Eye Protective
Sunglasses and other types of protective eye wear protect your eyes from UV rays which can damage your eyes and cause problems. You wear them while walking under high heat of the sun or while using chemicals.
Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin C and E
These vitamins help keep the tissues in your eyes strong. Vitamin E protects the cells of your eyes from free radicals which break down healthy tissues of your eyes. Vitamin C slows down the progression of age-related eye problems like presbyopia, macular degeneration, and cataracts. These nutrients are the two most essential and important eye vitamin.
Treat Underlying Health Problems
We have seen that some health problems are risks factors for presbyopia. These diseases can affect your eye health. check under risks factors to see the diseases that increases your risks of this condition.
A deficiency of zinc is related to poor eye health, and it is common to be deficient in this vital mineral as we age. Zinc also plays an important role in delivering vitamin A to your retina from your liver. Increase your intake of zinc-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, chick peas, and organic lamb.
There are some eye exercises that help you focus on near objects. One effective exercise recommended by the American Vision Institute is to cross your eyes and focus on the tip of your nose.
Then you look at a far object and focus on it. Repeat this with your breathing. You look at your nose when you inhale and the far object when you exhale. Another exercise you can perform is to hold a book approximately three inches from your face and put it upside down. Run your gaze around each letter in a word. Repeat several times.
Lutein is a powerful nutrient that helps improve vision especially in low-light conditions. You can find lutein in dark green vegetables, yellow fruits, oranges, papaya, broccoli, eggs, and corn.
Omega-3 Fatty acids
This fights inflammation in the eyes, it also prevents the progression of age-related eye disease. Rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold water fish like sardines, salmons, herring, and quality supplements but it must be prescribed by a doctor.