Just Had Your 40th Birthday? Presbyopia is Your Present

Eye Care services Portland, ORSo, you just had your 40th birthday. Surely you received the party with the black-frosted cake in the shape of a tombstone, the obligatory box of Depends, and all of the other references to your aging. Truth be told, you’ve probably got longer to go than you’ve lived thus far.

But there is one eye condition that begins around 40 and will make you feel older. It’s called presbyopia. Here’s just what this eye condition is.

What is presbyopia?

While you don’t feel them aging in the same way you do with your joints or your skin, your eyes age, too. Presbyopia is a natural consequence of your aging eyes. Presbyopia is a condition where the eye loses its ability to change its focus so that you can see objects that are close up. In most people, it starts to appear at the age of 40.

When you are young, the lens in your eye is soft and flexible, and it can change shape easily. This is how you focus on objects both up close and far away. After most people turn 40 the lens becomes less flexible, more rigid. It can’t change shape as easily as it did in your younger days, so it becomes much more difficult to see things up close, such as when you’re reading. But you’re in good company — presbyopia affects almost everyone.

Isn’t this just farsightedness?

People confuse presbyopia with farsightedness (hyperopia), but the two are different conditions, occurring in different parts of the eye.

When the lens of the eye loses flexibility with age, that is presbyopia. When the natural shape of the eyeball (the eye is either shorter than normal or has a cornea that is too flat) causes light rays to bend incorrectly when they enter the eye that is hyperopia. The confusion comes because the results are much the same — the person has difficulty seeing things up close without correction. Farsightedness can be present at birth, while presbyopia develops after 40. Hyperopia often has genetic tendencies, while presbyopia is common throughout the population.

There is no cure for presbyopia, but it can be easily corrected. Most people simply opt for standard drugstore reading glasses, having a few pairs around the house wherever they may need to do some reading. It can also be treated with laser surgery. Cataract surgery has progressed to the point where it can also correct presbyopia in many situations now.

Now you know why your 40th birthday was also accompanied by difficulty focusing on your scorecard after a round of golf — presbyopia.

Is it time for your regular eye exam? Call either of our two locations, St. Vincent, (503) 297-4718, or Downtown, (503) 228-6681, to make an appointment.

Posted in: Eye Conditions

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