Understanding Aging Eyes and Presbyopia


You’ve had crisp vision for most of your life. So maybe it came as a surprise when recently you’ve been having trouble reading the food labels at the supermarket or found yourself squinting while checking emails. Not to worry, everybody experiences at least some vision loss as they get a little older (even beyond 30), and a few simple adjustments will bring things back into clear view.

Defining presbyopia

Often referred to as “aging eye condition,” presbyopia is a fairly common vision problem as individuals get older. Changes to the lens associated with aging cause a slight refractive error, making it more difficult for the eyes to focus on objects close to you.

When light passes through your eye, it is focused by the cornea and lens directly on the retina at the back of the eye. Your retina registers the focused light and presents the image to your brain. But sometimes irregularities in your eyes cause the light to focus beyond where the retina is positioned. The premature exposure to the unfocused light makes objects close to you appear blurry. 

Changes associated with aging eyes

When you’re younger, the lenses in your eyes are soft and flexible, and the muscles bend and reshape them to focus on objects in your field of vision regardless of distance. Above the age of 35, the lenses naturally begin to harden, making them less responsive to these adjustments. Additionally, the muscles weaken with time and your eyes require more energy to focus. 

Very commonly, as both changes occur, light is focused slightly behind the retina, causing close-up objects to appear blurry. 

Identifying symptoms of presbyopia

Above the age of 40, it’s recommended you see your eye doctor more regularly, especially if you are experiencing any of these symptoms: 

  • Trouble focusing on nearby objects
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye strain
  • Fatigue after a close-up task (e.g., reading)
  • Headaches
  • Squinting

A comprehensive dilated eye exam will reveal if presbyopia is the culprit of your symptoms. 

Treatment for better vision

Presbyopia can be frustrating, especially if you’ve never had trouble with your vision before. But the good news is, treatment is very simple. Prescription eyeglasses with higher focusing power in the lower part of the lens make blurry text clear once more while not affecting your distance vision. If you don’t require prescription glasses, then nonprescription reading glasses will solve the problem. Both change the way light enters your eyes and place the focus point back onto your retinas. 

When you have a prescription and begin to experience these problems once more, then it may be time for a new prescription. 

If you’re uncertain about your vision or think you may be experiencing a refractive error like presbyopia, then use your VSP Individual Vision Plan to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor today. If you don’t have vision insurance, find out how VSP can help you save on your next eye exam or pair of glasses.


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