- Aging & Longevity
That Over-40 Eye Thing ~ It's Called Presbyopia
There actually IS a name for this!
Most of my friends from work, once they hit the age of 40, started to have trouble seeing things at a close distance. I had this problem as well. We would joke about it, saying things like "my arms are not long enough!" or "I find myself doing that 'trombone thing' with my arms in order to read!" You've probably seen that done, a person moves what he/she is trying to see up close, then far away, mimicking the action of playing a trombone.
Chances are that either you have done this yourself, our you may have seen someone else do it. I remember when we bought our home in Wisconsin. The lady who was doing our paperwork would take out a pair of glasses, perch them on the very END of her nose, and read that way. I remembered thinking, wow, she must be OLD to have to do this with her glasses!
Little did I know that very soon after that, I would start to have problems with reading as well! I hated that, because I have always been an avid reader. At work, I would find myself straining to read those little tiny letters on shelf labels. I began to think to myself, "They" must be making the writing smaller!
A lot of people I worked with felt the same way. All of a sudden, all of the writing on everything was getting smaller... it couldn't have been OUR eyesight going... no, we weren't old yet! So, that couldn't possibly be the case! Instead, we figured it had to be some kind of conspiracy. It wasn't.
Once you do go over age 40, there is a condition that is very, very common and affects most people. It is called "Presbyopia." It occurs with age, when the crystalline lens, located inside the eye, begins to harden. People then find it harder to read small print and to see things close up. It is perfectly natural and is not preventable. It probably will happen to you, if it hasn't already!
You can think of it the same way you think about wrinkles. We can "not like it" all we want, but chances are it will happen anyway. A way to help yourself is to purchase a pair of reading glasses if you do not already wear corrective lenses.
I know that for us who have had corrective lenses all (or most) of our lives, this will mean a trip to the Optometrist's office for a new prescription... dare I say it... for bifocals! Or, as in my case being a contact lens wearer for the past 30 years, I switched to "multi-focal" contact lenses. These have been a true godsend for me. They enable me not only to see very clearly up close, but at a distance as well. Once you are over 40, it is recommended that you see an Optometrist every two years, then every year once you are over 60.
Many people think that LASIK surgery will "cure" presbyopia. Unfortunately, this is not true. If you suffer from Myopia, Hyperopia or Astigmatism, this surgery could help you. But it will not correct presbyopia. Which is why when you find information on LASIK surgery, it will often state that you may still need to use reading glasses even after the surgery. You won't need glasses any more for distant vision, but you will probably still need some kind of reading glasses for up close.
People who wear contacts CAN wear reading glasses along with the contacts, rather than opting for "bifocal" or "multifocal" contact lenses. In my case, I opted for "multifocal" contact lenses so I wouldn't need reading glasses, but that's entirely up to each individual.
If you do opt to try bifocals, just be aware that they will take some time to get used to them. I can remember the first pair of bifocals I had. They gave me a strange feeling like stairs were... not in the same place they used to be... I'm not sure how else to describe it. Sometimes when walking, it was as if the floor was strangely "farther away" and stairs were "moved." It was a weird feeling and bifocals definitely took some getting used to. I use them only at night when I don't have contact lenses in.
There is a relatively new procedure for presbyopia, it is called "conductive keratoplasty." This procedure uses radio waves and a small instrument to "reshape" the cornea. This can help improve up close vision. It hasn't been studied extensively yet, but you could try talking to your doctor about it if you are curious as to whether or not this would be a good option for you.
The most basic treatment for Presbyopia still remains the use of reading glasses for up close vision correction. And it is the least costly of your options as well.
Or, if you are like me, you can totally embarrass your adult children when you are in a restaurant and pull a magnifying glass out of your purse in order to read the menu... yes, one of my prouder moments! (Giggling!!) Hey, for all those times they embarrassed me, it was "my turn" don't you think?
There is no shame with needing a little assistance with your vision, and if you do, wear those reading glasses proudly. You can even buy "trendy" reading glasses and be "in style." Consider it to be a badge of honor that you've made it this far in your life, and you are now in those years when you have become "wise" and can give people advice!