Are you getting older? Guess what, your eyes and your vision are aging right along with you. You may begin to notice that objects are becoming blurry at certain distances and that you must move them father away to see clearly. This common condition is called Presbyopia and it affects the lens in the eye. As individuals get older, usually around middle age, the lenses in the eyes begin to lose their elasticity and to thicken. As a result, the lens is less flexible and is less able to bend and focus at different distances. It becomes increasingly difficult to focus on close objects and the individual must often move objects farther away from the eye to bring them into focus.
Some of the symptoms of Presbyopia are the following: blurry vision at what was once a normal reading distance, headaches after performing close work or finely detailed work, the need to move reading and objects to arms length to focus or regard detail.
The medical term for the ability of the eye to focus on objects at varied distances is accommodation, and Presbyopia might be easiest to understand as the inability of the lens in the eye to accommodate for different distances when focusing on an object. Interestingly, unlike other eyesight conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, that are determined by more structural issues like the shape of the cornea or eyeball, Presbyobia is a musculature issue. The muscle and ligaments surrounding the lens in the eye control the ability of the lens to focus. These muscles can atrophy as an individual ages and this weakening, combined with the loss of flexibility and thickening of the lens, diminishes the ability of the eye to focus. Although this condition is most likely to onset at middle age, and accommodation may continue to decline requiring regularly updating prescriptions, vision usually becomes steadier by the early sixties and an individual’s prescription will begin to maintain consistency.
For individuals with Prebyopia, that do not want to wear glasses, there are contact lens options that can help correct this condition and restore good vision to wearers. Contact lens in either monovision or bifocal designs are most often prescribed and come in both soft and rigid gas permeable lenses. An understanding of these lens types will help the consumer to understand their prescription and which option will work best.
Bifocal Contact Lenses vs. Monovision Contact Lenses
The options that the prescription will come in will be either bifocal or monvision. Bifocal contact lenses contain both a distance and near prescription within the lens. This means that they work a lot like bifocal eyeglasses, having two prescription powers within one lens, one that corrects distant vision and one that corrects near vision. A monovision contact lens design means that one eye is fitted with a lens that assists in distance viewing and the other eye has a lens that assists in close or near vision.
Soft Contact Lenses vs. Rigid Contact Lenses
Contact lenses come in two types: soft or rigid gas permeable. Soft contact lenses are often more comfortable than rigid gas permeable contact lenses particularly when first placed into the eye. They are typically made of pliable, polymer-plastic combined with a small percentage of water. Soft contact lenses are often disposable and are discarded after a short use and replaced with a fresh pair. This means there is less chance for infection and more comfort for wearers who produce more protein, which leaves deposits that build up on the contact lenses. There is also less likelihood of infection and less cleaning required. However, soft contact lenses are delicate and can tear more easily.
Rigid gas permeable lens are more durable than soft contact lenses because they are more rigid. This is not to suggest that they are hard, they are made with silicone polymers that allow oxygen to circulate, but rigid gas permeable lenses are quite durable and preserve their shape. Also, they are available as extended wear options. Rigid gas permeable lenses may offer better visual clarity for some types of conditions. You can learn more about GP lenses from the CLMA - http://contactlenses.org.
Although Laser surgery is used to treat a number of vision impairments, it has not yet been approved by the FDA for the treatment of Presbyopia.
A discussion with your eye care professional about your options, your lifestyle, and your comfort level, as well as a determination of what will work best for your prescription, will help you to decide upon a design and type of contact lens that works best for you.