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Beware of Blue Light and Eye Disease – Part 2

In my last article I spoke about the effects of harmful blue light on the eyes. Adult onset macular degeneration, or AMD, causes a reduction or loss of central vision, rarely affects the peripheral vision, and can be devastating to a person’s independence. People can no longer drive a car, read standard print books or newspapers, see the beautiful faces of their grandchildren, and in many cases have difficulty walking or navigating their way without help.

A recent article published in Vision Monday on nutrition and the eye offers this information. More than 43 million Americans will develop age-related disease by the year 2020. There are 1.7 million Americans with some form of AMD and approximately 100,000 of them are blind from the disease. Of the 8000 Baby Boomers turning 60 every day, half will develop an age related eye disease.

So what is AMD and what can be done to minimize the chances that you will develop AMD?

Think of AMD as rusting of the retina, the delicate tissue that allows us to see. The retina is like the film in the old style cameras. Our retina’s contain pigment called melanin in one of its many layers. Melanin is protective to the retinal tissue that lies just below it. In many people, this pigment is very thin in the area of the retina called the macula, and offers little protection to the tissue it is meant to protect. If we did not paint or wax our cars, the metal would rust with time. If we did not follow certain dietary guidelines, ignored the use of specialty protective eyeglasses, smoked, and did not care for our diabetes or elevated cholesterol, we would all undoubtedly develop a rusty retina…. AMD

Fortunately, there is now a way to measure the pigment in the retina with a very hi-tech device called a Densitometer. Optometrists in many parts of the country have been using the early generations of the Densitometer for a couple of years. Our practice will be one of the first eye care offices on Long Island to be using the latest and most sophisticated Densitometer to date, as part of our overall patient eye care assessment. The test takes just 2 minutes and tells our doctors if our patients have enough retinal pigment to protect them from harmful blue light. If not, our optometrists will counsel our patients on how to increase this pigment.

To do this, diet is most important. Leafy green vegetables contain 2 important carotenoids………. lutein, and zeazanthin. Lutein is converted in the body to meso-zeazantin. Unfortunately, our bodies cannot convert enough of lutein to meso-zeazanthin which is the most important of them all. Lutein and zeazanthin alone are available in many over-the-counter supplements also containing vitamins C, E, copper and zinc (the AREDS formula). As I just stated, the most important of all 3 carotenoids, meso-zeazathin has not been available in supplement form until now. Our office prescribes MacuHealth, a small one-a-day supplement containing only the 3 carotonoids. This supplement alone has been shown to increase the pigment of the macula, improving the “rust protection”. Patients have reported improved night vision, improvement in vision quality during sports activities, and improvement in overall quality of vision in those people previously diagnosed with early onset macular degeneration.

Other important supplements include Omega3 fatty acids, or fish oil, shown to have multiple benefits from the heart to the skin and on multiple levels, in the eyes.

Eating healthy is important. Supplementing to add another layer of defense for the eyes is equally important for vision protection. Our doctors intensively read the current studies on AMD and attend many lectures discussing eye health. We are attempting to take the confusion about supplements away from our patients and guide them based on those studies indicating the supplements determined to have the most positive effect. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team of doctors at Optix.

See Well,

Dr. Joel Kestenbaum

Optix Family Eyecare Center

Beware of Blue Light and Eye Disease – Part 1

What is blue light and why is it a problem all of a sudden? More and more information is surfacing in the news about what I will call the “Blue Light Phenomenon”. For years, doctors have been warning patients about the long-term effects of ultraviolet (UV) light on the skin and on the eyes. Smart consumers have been protecting their skin with suntan lotions or by wearing long sleeves, hats, and sunglasses. It is proven that those that did not protect themselves are more likely to develop skin cancer and cataracts at earlier ages. And now we have the Blue Light Phenomenon?

Scientists have studied the long term effects of all forms of light, both visible and invisible, on the skin and eyes for many years. Current studies are proving that certain wavelengths of visible blue light are dangerous to the eyes and are a major cause of adult-onset macular degeneration. Adult-onset macular degeneration, or AMD, causes a reduction or loss of central vision, rarely affects the peripheral vision, and can be devastating to a person’s independence. People can no longer drive a car, read standard print books or newspapers, see the beautiful faces of their grandchildren, and in many cases have difficulty walking or navigating their way without help.

Visible light is composed of an infinite number of colors. For simplification, try to get a mental picture of a rainbow. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet are the main colors. But if you really look at this rainbow, you will see that each color is actually a blend of colors. The red is not just one red but a blend of different hues of red. The other colors follow along in the same way. The blue light however is the one of major concerns to humans. Certain hues of blue light are damaging to the eyes and can cause AMD with exposure over a lifetime. What is a lifetime? For some, eye doctors can see the signs of AMD in a patient’s early thirties and for others, it shows up in the early to mid-sixties.

As we all know, harmful UV rays come from the sun. And so does harmful blue light. Pre-1975, the sun was about the only place we were exposed to harmful blue light. Today, we are exposed indoors as well. Cell phones, tablets, LED lighting, compact fluorescent bulbs, LED and LCD TV’s all emit harmful blue light rays. We have almost constant exposure and it is not healthy.

The good news is that eye care professionals now have access to eyeglass lens materials and oral supplements that can help protect the retina from developing AMD. Understand that the Blue Light Phenomenon is not the only thing that has been shown to contribute to AMD. Family history, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and other health issues are also implicated in leading to AMD. As eye care providers, it is our job to both educate our patients about health issues and provide guidance to minimize the possibilities of AMD development.

In our practice and in forward-thinking eye care practices across the country, we have embraced the use of BluTech lenses. These lenses are the only available lenses that filter out the most harmful wavelengths of blue light and UV light, thereby offering the ultimate in eye protection. Patients anecdotally have told my staff that their eyes feel so much more comfortable with these lenses. Burning sensations have disappeared. Computer use is more comfortable and patients are less fatigued at the days’ end. There are both indoor and outdoor BluTech lenses.

In my next blog I will talk more about “What is AMD” and the supplements that are available to offer protection to our most valuable sense…..our sight.

See Well,

Dr. Joel Kestenbaum

Optix Family Eyecare Center

Our Donations to Northwell, Plainview & Syosset Hospitals

Optix has recently made donations to our community hospitals: Northwell, Plainview & Syosset Hospitals. We put together a gift bag with eyeglass cleaner, cloth, and a thank you for our front line healthcare workers. The eyeglass cleaner will be of good use for their shields and goggles, as well as their glasses.

Our Donations to local hospitals, Plainview, NY Our gifts to healthcare workers in local hospitals, Plainview & Syosset, NY Our gifts to healthcare workers in local hospitals, Plainview & Syosset, NY Our gifts to healthcare workers in local hospitals, Plainview & Syosset, NY

COVID-19: Protect Your Eyes From Too Much Screen Time

You and your children are likely spending more time on mobile devices and computer screens than ever before. Too much time spent staring at screens can cause computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain, in certain people. While not serious, this condition can be very uncomfortable, potentially causing:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Insomnia
  • Tiredness

Below are some useful tips to help you and your children avoid computer vision syndrome:

Blink more!

Staring at a screen strains the eyes more than reading printed material because people tend to blink 30-50% less. This can also cause your eyes to dry out. Be mindful of blinking and make it a habit when focusing on a screen, as it will keep your eyes healthy and lubricated.

Follow the 20-20-20 Rule

Give your eyes a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object located 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Doing so will allow your eyes to relax and will give both you and your eyes some rest.

Keep your distance

Your eyes work harder to see close up than at a distance. Try keeping your monitor or screen at arm’s length, or about 25 inches away.

Lighting matters

Make sure that your surrounding light is similar in strength to the light emanating from your screen. Contrasting levels of light, such as looking at a bright screen in a dark room, can strain the eyes.

Take breaks from the screen

You may want to stipulate ‘screen free’ time for yourself and/or your children, such as during meal times or for several hours throughout the day. Engage in hobbies that don’t require a screen, such as drawing, reading books, doing puzzles, playing an instrument or cooking (among many others).

Don’t use devices before bed

Studies show that blue light may affect your body’s circadian rhythm, also known as the natural wake and sleep cycle. Stop using screens one to two hours before bedtime or use nighttime settings to minimize blue light exposure.

Although it may require a bit of planning to protect your family’s eyes during this stressful time, ultimately, it’s all about balance — and what works for you and your family may differ from others.

From all of us at Optix Family Eyecare at Plainview, we wish you good health and please stay safe.

How to Disinfect Glasses to Help Prevent COVID-19

Coronavirus and Your Eyeglasses

Did you know that our glasses (this includes the lenses and the frame) can potentially transfer viruses, such as COVID-19, to our eyes, nose, and mouth? This is because viruses — as well as bacteria — are easily transferred from our surroundings to our hands and then from our hands to our glasses.

In fact, research has shown that coronavirus can remain on glass surfaces for as long as 9 days. If we’re not careful, we can easily touch our glasses then touch our eyes, nose, or mouth, thus continuing the contagion cycle.

The danger is even higher for people with presbyopia, age-related farsightedness that generally affects those aged 40 and above. Presbyopes who wear reading glasses tend to put them on and take them off several times throughout the day. What’s more worrisome is that this age group is at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19.

The good news is that disinfecting your glasses is easy! Let’s delve into ways you should and should not disinfect your lenses at home.

What NOT to Use to Cleanse Your Glasses

Many of us may have rubbing-alcohol at home, and although it may seem like a perfectly good idea to use it to disinfect your specs, we discourage you from doing so. It may be too harsh for your eyeglasses, especially if you have any special coatings on your lenses.

Other products you should stay away from include ammonia, bleach, or anything with high concentrations of acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, which can damage lens coatings and some eyewear materials.

How to Safely Disinfect Your Glasses

Now that we’ve eliminated the substances and chemicals that should not be used on your lenses, let’s see what is safe to use to clean eyewear.

Dish Soap and Water

The absolute easiest and most efficient way to disinfect and clean your lenses is to use lukewarm water with a gentle dish soap. Massage the soap onto each lens, rinse, and dry using a microfiber cloth (not paper towels, as the fibers can easily scratch lenses). While you’re at it, don’t forget to include your frame’s nose pads and earpieces.

Lens Cleaning Wipes

Pre-moistened lens wipes are excellent for cleaning your glasses, as well as your phone, tablet and computer screen. They remove bacteria, dust, dirt and germs from your glasses and the formula restores shine to glass surfaces without leaving any streaks or residue. The durable material is tough enough to remove stains, while being gentle enough not to scratch your screens or lenses. Contact Optix Family Eyecare to find out how you can access these.

So, In Summary:

  • Do not use rubbing alcohol to disinfect your glasses.
  • Avoid using household cleaners or products with high concentrations of acid.
  • Clean your glasses with a gentle dish soap and lukewarm water, or lens wipes.
  • Dry your glasses with a microfiber cloth to prevent smudging and scratching.

Disinfecting your glasses shouldn’t be stressful or worrisome. Just follow the easy steps above to protect your lenses and your health.

On behalf of everyone at Optix Family Eyecare in Plainview, New York, we sincerely hope you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe during this uncertain time.

Coronavirus and Your Eyes – What You Should Know

As coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads around the world, health professionals are demanding that people limit their personal risk of contracting the virus by thoroughly washing their hands, practicing social distancing, and not touching their nose, mouth, or eyes. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that the eyes play an important role in spreading COVID-19.

Coronavirus is transmitted from person to person through droplets that an infected person sneezes or coughs out. These droplets can easily enter your body through the mucous membranes on the face, such as your nose, mouth, and yes — your eyes.

But First, What Is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, causes mild to severe respiratory illness associated with fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Symptoms typically appear within 2 weeks of exposure. Those with acute cases of the virus can develop pneumonia and other life-threatening complications.

Here’s what you should know:

Guard Your Eyes Against COVID-19

  • Avoid rubbing your eyes. Although we all engage in this very normal habit, try to fight the urge to touch your eyes. If you absolutely must, first wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Tears carry the virus. Touching tears or a surface where tears have fallen can spread coronavirus. Make sure to wash your hands after touching your eyes and throughout the day as well.
  • Disinfect surfaces. You can catch COVID-19 by touching an object or surface that has the virus on it, such as a door knob, and then touching your eyes.

Coronavirus and Pink Eye

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, refers to an inflammation of the membrane covering the front of the eyeball. Conjunctivitis is characterized by red, watery, and itchy eyes. Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can be spread by coughing and sneezing, too.

According to a recent study in China, viral conjunctivitis may be a symptom of COVID-19. The study found conjunctival congestion in 9 of the 1,099 patients (0.8%) who were confirmed to have coronavirus.

If you suspect you have pink eye, call your eye doctor in Plainview right away. Given the current coronavirus crisis, we ask patients to call prior to presenting themselves at the office of Dr. Schiffer, as it will allow the staff to assess your condition and adequately prepare for your visit.

Contact Lenses or Eyeglasses?

Many people who wear contact lenses are thinking about switching to eyeglasses for the time being to lower the threat of being infected with coronavirus.

Wearing glasses may provide an extra layer of protection if someone coughs on you; hopefully that infected droplet will hit the lens and not your eye. However, one must still be cautious, as the virus can reach the eyes from the exposed sides, tops and bottoms around your frames. Unlike specialized safety goggles, glasses are not considered a safe way to prevent coronavirus.

Contact Lenses and COVID-19

If you wear contacts, make sure to properly wash your hands prior to removing or inserting them. Consider ordering a 3 to 6 month supply of contact lenses and solution; some opticals provide home delivery of contact lenses and solutions. At this stage there is no recommendation to wear daily lenses over monthlies.

Don’t switch your contact lens brand or solution, unless approved by your optometrist or optician.

Regularly Disinfect Glasses

Some viruses such as coronavirus, can remain on hard surfaces from several hours to days. This can then be transmitted to the wearer’s fingers and face. People who wear reading glasses for presbyopia should be even more careful, because they usually need to handle their glasses more often throughout the day, and older individuals tend to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 complications. Gently wash the lenses and frames with warm water and soap, and dry your eyeglasses using a microfiber cloth.

Stock up on Eye Medicine

It’s a good idea to stock up on important medications, including eye meds, in order to get by in case you need to be quarantined or if supplies run short. This may not be possible for everyone due to insurance limitations. If you cannot stock up, make sure to request a refill as soon as you’re due and never wait until the last minute to contact your pharmacy.

It is important that you continue to follow your doctor’s instructions for all medications.

Digital Devices and Eyestrain

At times like this, people tend to use digital devices more than usual. Take note of tiredness, sore eyes, blurry vision, double vision or headaches, which are symptoms of computer vision syndrome if they are exacerbated by extensive use of digital devices, and might indicate a need for a new prescription in the near future. This usually isn’t urgent, but if you’re unsure, you can call our eye doctor’s office.

Children and Digital Devices

During this time your children may end up watching TV and using computers, tablets and smartphones more frequently and for more extended periods too. Computer vision syndrome, mentioned above, can affect children as well. We recommend limiting screen time to a maximum of 2 hours per day for children, though it’s understandably difficult to control under the circumstances.

Try to get your child to take a 10 to 15 minute break every hour, and stop all screen time for at least 60 minutes before sleep.

Children and Outdoor Play

Please follow local guidelines and instructions regarding outdoor activities for your children. If possible, it’s actually good for visual development to spend 1-2 hours a day outside.

 

From all of us at Optix Family Eyecare in Plainview, we wish you good health and please stay safe.

Wearing Colored Contact Lenses This Halloween? Beware and Take Care!

Countless adults, teens and even children will be wearing colored contact lenses this Halloween, but few are aware of the risks involved. Ever wondered what those cat-eye contacts are doing to your eyes? If you got them without a prescription, beware of health complications.

Enjoy a safe and happy Halloween by educating yourself and others about the dangers of wearing colored contact lenses without a prescription.

Why Can Over-The-Counter Colored Contact Lenses Cause Eye Damage?

Contact lenses made to change one’s appearance go by many names: cosmetic, theatrical, Halloween, circle, decorative, colored, or costume contact lenses. While it’s illegal to sell colored contact lenses without a prescription, authorities rarely enforce the law — which means they’re still accessible in many places.

Many people believe that wearing non-prescription color contact lenses can cause no harm. This unfortunate myth has led to many contact lens complications. For instance, when a person feels that a contact lens is “dry”, it could be because the lens is not a good fit. Ideally, the lens should follow the contour of the eye, and stay centered, with enough lens movement to allow tear exchange beneath the lens.

Furthermore, non-medical colored contact lenses are often produced by unlicensed manufacturers that tend to use inferior plastic and toxic materials, such as lead (often used in lens coloring), which can get absorbed through the eyes into the bloodstream. These illegal lenses may also contain high levels of bacteria from unsanitary packaging, shipping, and storage conditions.

Therefore, purchasing any kind of contact lenses without a prescription or medical oversight can result in a variety of eye complications, such as corneal abrasions, eye sores, conjunctivitis, other eye infections, vision impairment and, in rare cases, even permanent vision loss.

Even if you have perfect vision, all contact lenses, including colored contacts, require a prescription and proper fitting by an optometrist.

Contact us at Optix Family Eyecare and make an appointment with Dr. Schiffer to get properly examined for a contact lens prescription.

The Dos and Don’ts of Colored Contact Lenses

  • DO make sure you undergo a comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist who will measure your eyes and properly fit you for contact lenses.
  • DO get a valid prescription that includes the measurements, expiration date and the contact lens brand name.
  • DO purchase the decorative contact lenses from a reliable retailer (hint: they should demand a prescription.)
  • DO follow the contact lens hygiene directives (cleaning, inserting and removing lenses) provided by your eye doctor.
  • DO make sure to undergo follow-up eye exams as directed by your eye care professional.
  • DON’T ever share contact lenses with anyone else.

So don’t let an eye infection get in the way of your fun this Halloween. Wearing decorative lenses without a valid prescription can result in serious harm to your eyes, which can haunt you long after October 31st.

Get your comprehensive eye exam and contact lens fitting by an eye doctor in Plainview at Optix Family Eyecare.

Sports-Related Eye Injuries

September Is Sports Eye Safety Month!

Ocular sports trauma is among the leading causes of permanent vision loss in North America. Tens of thousands of people get treated for sports-related eye injuries a year, with the most common injuries occurring during water sports and basketball. Infections, corneal abrasions, eye socket fractures, and detached retinas are just a few of the typical cases eye doctors encounter on a regular basis.

Sports Eye Safety Month is sponsored by Prevent Blindness America (PBA) to remind people to protect their eyes when playing sports. Though young children are usually the most vulnerable to eye injuries, it should be noted that professional athletes can also suffer eye injuries while on the job.

Eye accidents can happen in a split second – the effects can last a lifetime…

By wearing protective eyewear, you can safeguard your eyesight without compromising on your favorite sports activities. Athletes who wear contact lenses still need additional eye protection for relevant sports.

At Optix Family Eyecare, our eye doctor is experienced and trained to treat sports-induced eye injuries sustained by our active patients. Dr. Schiffer and our dedicated staff are committed to providing the most comprehensive eye care to help get you back on the field again. Furthermore, we provide consultations on a wide array of protective eyewear for all your sporting needs.

What Eye Injuries Can Be Caused by Sports?

Corneal Abrasion

A corneal abrasion, also known as a scratched cornea, is the most common sports-related eye injury. When someone gets poked in the eye, the eye’s surface can get scratched. Symptoms may include acute pain and a gritty or foreign body sensation in the eyes, as well as redness, tearing, light sensitivity, headaches, blurry or decreased vision. Medical care includes prevention or treatment of infection, and pain management. If you suspect that you have suffered a corneal abrasion, make sure to see an eye doctor right away.

Traumatic Iritis

Iritis is an inflammation of the iris, the colored part of the eye. The condition rapidly develops and typically affects only one eye. Symptoms include pain in the eye or brow region, blurred vision, a small or oddly-shaped pupil, and sensitivity to bright lights.

Hyphema

Hyphema is among the more common sports-related eye injuries, with racquet sports, baseball and softball accounting for more than 50% of all hyphema injuries in athletics.

A hyphema is a broken blood vessel inside the eye which causes blood to collect in the space between the cornea and iris, also known as the “anterior chamber”. Although the main symptom is blood in the eye, it can be accompanied by blurry or distorted vision, light sensitivity or eye pain.

If you recognize the signs and symptoms of hyphema, make sure to seek immediate medical attention in order to avoid secondary complications.

Angle recession

Angle recession can develop from an eye injury or bruising of the eye, caused by getting punched, elbowed, or hit with a ball. The trauma damages the fluid drainage system of the eye, which causes it to back up, increasing the pressure in the eye. In 20% of people with angle recession, this pressure can become so severe that it damages the optic nerve, and causes glaucoma (known as “angle-recession glaucoma”).

You may not notice any symptoms at first, and it may take years before you experience any signs of vision loss. Therefore, it’s critical to visit the eye doctor as soon as possible for a complete eye exam and make sure that you follow-up with routine screenings.

Retinal tear or detachment

Retinal detachment is a condition in which the retina gets lifted or pulled away from its normal position at the back of the eye. If not treated immediately, retinal detachment can develop permanent vision loss.

Symptoms include seeing flashing lights, floaters or little black spots in your vision. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency and requires an eye doctor’s immediate attention – surgical intervention may be necessary.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

This happens when a blood vessel breaks on the white part of the eye. In addition to a sport-related injury, it can be induced by rubbing the eye, heavy lifting, sneezing or coughing. For those with subconjunctival hemorrhage, the eye appears intensely red – though this minor condition will often clear up within a couple weeks on its own without treatment.

Orbital Fracture

This occurs when one or more of the bones around the eyeball break, often caused by a hard blow to the face – such as by a baseball or a fist. This is a major injury and should be assessed by an eye doctor, like Dr. Schiffer, along with X-Rays or CT scan imaging to help confirm the diagnosis.

Black Eye or Periorbital Hematoma

A “shiner” can occur when a blunt object such as a fist or ball strikes the eye-area of the face and causes bruising. Typically, this kind of injury affects the face more than the eye. Blurry vision may be a temporary symptom, but it’s a good idea to get a black eye checked out by an optometrist in any case, because sometimes there is accompanying damage to the eye which could impact vision.

How Does One Prevent Sports-Related Eye Injuries?

One of the most important things one can do in order to prevent eye injuries is to wear protective eyewear. In fact, wearing eye protection should be part of any athlete’s routine, and should be prioritized just like wearing shin guards or a helmet.

Below are a few tips to prevent sports-related eye injuries:

  • Wear safety goggles (with polycarbonate lenses) for racquet sports or basketball. For the best possible protection, the eye guard or sports protective eyewear should be labeled “ASTM F803 approved” – which means it is performance tested.
  • Use batting helmets with polycarbonate face shields for baseball.
  • If you wear prescription eyewear, speak with Dr. Schiffer about fitting you for prescription protective eyewear.
  • Sports eye protection should be comfortably padded along the brow and bridge of the nose, to prevent the eye guards from cutting into the skin.
  • Try on protective eyewear to assess whether it’s the right fit and size for you and adjust the straps as needed. For athletic children who are still growing, make sure that last-year’s pair still fits before the new sports season begins. Consult Dr. Schiffer to determine whether the comfort and safety levels are adequate.
  • Keep in mind that regular glasses don’t provide nearly enough eye protection when playing sports.

For athletes, whether amateur or pro, there is so much more at stake than just losing the game. Fortunately, by wearing high-quality protective eyewear, you can prevent 90% of all sports-related eye injuries.

Speak with Dr. Schiffer at Optix Family Eyecare about getting the right sports-related protective eyewear to ensure healthy eyes and clear vision. Our eye care clinic serves patients from Plainview and the surrounding areas.

Trouble Seeing the Fine Print?

Here are Your Options…

Every good pair of eyes eventually gets old and with age comes a condition called presbyopia. Presbyopia, which usually begins to set in some time around 40, occurs when the lens of the eye begins to stiffen, making near vision (such as reading books, menus, and computer screens) blurry. You may have this age-related farsightedness if you notice yourself holding the newspaper further and further away in order to make out the words, and you may begin to experience headaches or eyestrain as well.

The good news is, presbyopia is very common. It happens to most of us eventually and these days there are a number of good options to correct it. First of all, let’s take a look at what causes the condition.

What Causes Presbyopia?

As the eye ages, the natural lens begins to lose its elasticity as the focusing muscles (the ciliary muscles) surrounding the lens have difficulty changing the shape of the lens. The lens is responsible for focusing light that comes into the eye onto the retina for clear vision. The hardened or less flexible lens causes the light which used to focus on the retina to shift its focal point behind the retina when looking at close objects. This causes blurred vision.

Presbyopia is a progressive condition that gets worse with time. It is a refractive error just like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism.

Signs of presbyopia include:

  • Blurred near vision
  • Difficulty focusing on small print or close objects
  • Eyestrain, headaches or fatigue, especially when reading or doing close work
  • Holding reading material at a distance to see properly
  • Needing brighter light to see close objects

Presbyopia can be diagnosed through an eye exam.

Treatments for Presbyopia

There are a number of options for presbyopia treatment which include glasses, contact lenses or surgery.

Glasses

The most common form of correction is eyeglasses. Reading glasses adjust the focal point of the target to reduce the focusing demand on the eyes. A side effect of the convex lenses is that they also magnify the target. For some, reading glasses are sufficient to improve close vision. Others, especially those with another refractive error, require more complex lenses.

Bifocal or multifocal lenses, including progressive addition lenses (PALs), offer a solution for those with nearsightedness or farsightedness. These lenses have two or more prescriptions within the same lens, usually in different areas, to allow correction for distance vision and near vision within the same lens. While bifocals and standard multifocals typically divide the lenses into two hemispheres (or more), requiring the patient to look in the proper hemisphere depending on where they are focusing, with an unattractive contour calling attention to the presbyopia portion of the lens, progressive lenses provide a progressive transition of lens power creating a smooth, gradual change. Some people prefer progressive lenses for aesthetic reasons as they don’t have a visible line dividing the hemispheres.

Contact Lenses

Like glasses, contact lenses are also available in bifocal and multifocal lenses. Alternatively, some eye doctors will prescribe monovision contact lens wear, which divides the vision between your eyes. Typically it fits your dominant eye with a single vision lens for distance vision and your weaker eye with a single vision lens for near vision. Sometimes your eye doctor will prescribe modified monovision which uses a multifocal lens in the weaker eye to cover intermediate and near vision. Newer contact lens technology is making both lenses multifocal, and therefore doctors are becoming less dependent on monovision. Sometimes monovision takes a while to adjust to.

Based on your prescription, your eye doctor will help you decide which option is best for you and assist you through the adjustment period to determine whether this is a feasible option. Since there are so many baby boomers with presbyopia nowadays, the contact lens choices have expanded a lot within recent years.

Surgery

There are a few surgical treatments available for presbyopia. These include monovision LASIK surgery (which is a refractive surgery that works similar to monovision glasses or contact lenses), corneal inlays or onlays (implants placed on the cornea), refractive lens exchange (similar to cataract surgery, this replaces the old, rigid lens with a manufactured intraocular lens), and conductive keratoplasty (which uses radio waves to reshape the cornea in a noninvasive procedure).

Medication – On the Horizon

There are currently clinical trials with promising early results that are testing eye drops that restore the flexibility of the human lens. It could be possible that in the near future eye drop prescriptions could be used to reduce the amount of time that people have to use reading glasses or contact lenses.

These procedures vary in cost, recovery and outcome. If you are interested in surgery, schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable doctor to learn all of the details of the different options.

As people are living longer, presbyopia is affecting a greater percentage of the population and more research is being done into treatments for the condition. So if your arm is getting tired from holding books so far away, see your eye doctor to discuss the best option for you.