Presbyopia is the inability to focus on things that are at normal reading distance, such as text on your mobile phone and print on packaging. It is a natural part of ageing and happens as your lens loses elasticity.
Presbyopia occurs as we get older – and will happen to everybody – even those who have never previously had a problem with their eyesight. It usually starts to become noticeable in your late 30s or early 40s.
People with presbyopia have difficulty focussing on things that are close, such as menus, phone screens and books – especially in dim lighting. As you age, you will also find that things that are further away from you, such as computer screens, also become blurry. You may also notice that it takes longer to change your focus between looking at something close and looking at something far away (or vice versa).
Presbyopia is usually managed with glasses or contact lenses. You can either wear single vision reading glasses or – if you find it inconvenient to swap between reading and distance glasses if you need them – you can use bifocal or varifocal lenses in your glasses.
Correcting presbyopia with contact lenses is more complicated than correcting it with glasses. This is because you can look through the different parts of a varifocal spectacle lens simply by moving your head or eyes. As contact lenses move with your eyes, it is more difficult to do this and correct the focus both for distance and near vision, although bifocal and varifocal contact lenses are available and work well for some people. An alternative is to correct one eye for distance and the other eye for reading. This is called monovision.
Watch our video to find out more about presbyopia: