Presbyopia, more commonly known as farsightedness, occurs when the eye’s lens loses flexibility. A condition that develops in people as they age, presbyopia results in a difficulty seeing up-close objects.
Most people notice farsightedness in their 40s, when reading material appears blurry when held at a normal distance — this is why you often times see people holding books out at an arm’s distance.
Farsightedness can be treated with bifocal lenses or reading glasses. The lenses of bifocal glasses can contain a prescription for nearsightedness, as well as a prescription for farsightedness. Reading glasses are only worn to see something that is close. Some people decide to treat presbyopia with lasik eye surgery. This procedure uses a laser on the cornea to help people see well at multiple distances.
Surgeries for Presbyopia
There are multiple procedures to help treat presbyopia. Read about each option below:
Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty (ALK)
ALK corrects both nearsightedness and mild farsightedness, but is now used less often as more accurate surgeries have been developed. A flap across the cornea is cut and folded back, and another cut is made to the inner tissue. The outer flap reattaches itself when replaced.
Conductive Keratoplasty (CK)
Radio frequency energy is used to reduce the collagen in peripheral cornea with a probe, not a laser, so that no incisions are made. It corrects nearsightedness and the effects on correcting astigmatism are being researched. It’s a short procedure that typically takes about three minutes. Most people experience 20/20 vision or better for at least two years following.
Photo-Refractive Keratectomy (PRK)
Similar to LASIK, PRK reshapes the cornea with a laser, but does so at the surface of the cornea instead of underneath. PRK is not meant to correct presbyopia and takes up to three months for best uncorrected vision to settle. However, it is a highly accurate procedure for correcting nearsightedness.
Refractive Lens Exchange (ReLEx)
ReLEx is a more invasive procedure that requires surgery inside the eye, but is generally a more permanent solution. The natural lens, which has lost the ability to focus, is replaced with an artificial lens, which facilitates both distance and near focus. This procedure is more expensive than most laser corrections but it does correct presbyopia and eliminates the need for cataract surgery later.
Resources on Presbyopia
- National Library of Health Causes Incidence and Risk Factors of Presbyopia
- All About Vision Presbyopia Symptoms and Signs
- American Optometric Association Presbyopia Definition
- National Institute of Health Presbyopia Symptoms, Exams and Tests
Resources on Surgery for Presbyopia
- All About Eyes PRK: The Original Laser Eye Surgery
- Refractive Surgery News: PRK vs. LASIK Laser Eye Surgery
- WebMd “What Happens During ALK Eye Surgery?”
- MedicineNet “What is Keratoplasty Eye Surgery?”
- All About Vision Refractive Lens Exchange or Clear Lens Exchange
- USA Eyes: Exchange the Natural Lens
- Conductive Keratoplasty reduces need for reading glasses
- About NearVision Conductive Keratoplasty