Presbyopia Symptoms & Warning Signs

Published: February 2, 2012

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Symptoms

Once you reach your mid-'40s, you will notice that you are starting to have trouble reading text up close, especially when the lights are dim. You might have an easier time focusing when you hold the object further away. You might have trouble reading prescription medication bottles, and you may have trouble reading legal documents or reading the computer screen at work. You may notice that your vision is better in one eye than in the other, or you may not be able to notice any differences at all.

You might start to experience headaches and fatigue, especially if your vision starts to worsen. You might feel worse towards the end of the day, as your eyes have spent the entire day straining, especially if you are in a profession that requires you to focus and read.

The condition can affect one or both eyes, and symptoms can progress in each eye at different rates. As a result, you may need a different prescription for the lens or contact lenses of each eye.

Presbyopia occurs even when you have never experienced other vision problems. The condition has nothing to do with myopia and other conditions that can cause problems seeing. Presbyopia can occur even if you already have trouble seeing objects that are far away: you may actually need to wear bifocals to correct this vision problem.

You might notice that your vision improves in bright conditions. This occurs because of how light enters the lens of your eye. The iris controls how much light enters your eye. In bright conditions, the iris becomes smaller because an excess of light can actually damage the eye. When the iris shrinks, the focal ratio of the eye increases, and as a consequence, your vision will be less blurry.

Symptoms will become worse over time but can be corrected with surgery, contact lenses, or glasses. Eventually, some people will be unable to read at all. Even in these situations, glasses and contacts will help correct problems.

Warning Signs

Although presbyopia is natural, symptoms can disrupt a person's quality of life. It might become difficult to complete your daily tasks such as cooking, reading, or working at the computer. Make sure that you aggressively seek help from your doctor, especially if you are having trouble doing the things that are important to you. Your quality of life should not suffer.

Furthermore, presbyopia can present a danger: you might have trouble reading important labels on prescription or over-the-counter medications, and you might have trouble checking nutrition labels to identity ingredients that you or your family may have an allergy to.

For this reason, you should see a doctor as soon as you notice that your vision is starting to change. The ophthalmologist will adjust your prescription accordingly. An eye exam will also reveal any underlying problems or damage to the eye. It is recommended that people get an eye exam once a year, even if you do not notice any changes to your vision. Only a doctor can conclusively determine whether your eyes are changing.

Sometimes, serious medical conditions are mistaken for presbyopia. It is sometimes very easy to confuse an underlying health problem with the natural aging process. A number of problems can cause vision changes. Diabetes, glaucoma, and cataracts are conditions that can cause your vision to worsen.

Diabetes when left uncontrolled can cause serious complications including death. Glaucoma and cataracts, when left undiagnosed can progress into blindness. It is important to undergo routine tests to exclude these problems. Make sure that you're paying attention to your vision so that you do not end up with more serious problems.

For this reason, you should also make sure that you stay up to date with your routine physicals. As part of a physical exam, the doctor will perform routine blood tests that effectively diagnose conditions that could be causing problems with your vision, including diabetes. A doctor can also check for symptoms that point towards a neurological problem.

If you notice that your vision worsening at an accelerated rate, you should seek prompt medical attention. You might not have the correct prescription, or you might have another problem that is causing problems with your vision.

For the most part, it is natural for presbyopia to worsen over time.

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