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What’s wrong with my eyes, doc?

I have been wearing spectacles for myopia since my school days. However, as I near 40, reading fine print such as expiry dates causes a lot of strain, even though my spectacle power has remained constant all these years. In fact, I can see nearby objects better after I remove my spectacles. Why is this happening?

Everybody progressively loses the ability to see close objects between and around the ages of 40 to 65. This is a natural part of ageing caused by presbyopia — the loss of the eye lens’ flexibility. This change prevents the eyes from altering their shapes to focus light on the retina. Nearby objects, then, appear blurry.

Presbyopia may also set in prematurely before the age of 40 due to consumption of drugs such as antidepressants or other conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The common symptoms of presbyopia include:
  • Requiring more light while doing close work
  • Getting eye strain, headaches or fatigue due to close work
  • Having to hold reading material at a distance to see it properly
There is no way to prevent or cure presbyopia. A person’s vision can only be corrected with certain measures:
Reading glasses
If you have no other eye condition, you can purchase reading glasses without any prescription.

Prescription glasses or contact lenses
If over-the-counter glasses do not give you enough clarity, or if you have an existing eye condition, you will need prescription glasses by a doctor. Multi-focal contact lenses may be possible in some patients.

Surgery may be possible for certain groups of patients who do not wish to wear spectacles or contact lenses. The various kinds of surgeries are:
  • Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK): Creating monovision by correcting one eye for near vision and the other for distance. This is mainly for patients with pre-existing myopia and presbyopia.
  • Cataract surgery with presbyopic intraocular lens implant: for patients with cataract, removing the cataract and inserting a synthetic presbyopic intraocular lens implant is a good option.
Presbyopia is not a threat to your vision. But please consult a doctor before taking any measures to correct it.

Scan to find out more:

Clin Assoc Prof Mohamed Rosman, 
Head & Senior Consultant, Refractive Surgery Department, SNEC