Aging stinks, but as my dad always says, it beats the alternative. Presbyopia, the term for loss of flexibility in our eye’s natural lens, is one of the earlier signs that you’re not 30 years old any longer. Our eyes have an exquisite mechanism consisting of the clear crystalline lens (about the size and shape of an M&M), the ciliary muscle (which pulls on the lens) and our iris (the colored part of your eye that lets light in).
Grandpa, and your family’s genetics, don’t play a role. I know you love the guy, but no one can have perfect vision for distance and near in both eyes forever. We all lose flexibility in the lens of our eyes that makes the need for either distance glasses, near glasses or both (bifocals) no later than our late 40s.
The beauty of the lens inside our eye is that it can change shape to increase the focusing power of our eyes. We need more focusing power to see near objects than we do to focus on distant objects. I’ll describe the issues below:
(We don’t see this a lot at SharpeVision!) When someone has clear distance vision, and they’re under 45ish, their lens flexes to add focusing power, and they see near objects clearly. They’ll need readers as they age.
When someone is nearsighted, their eyes have too much focusing power for distant objects so they have awesome vision up close. If your contacts or glasses have “minus” in front of a number, you’re nearsighted. It means you need to subtract focusing power with your glasses. And folks over 45 (the aforementioned Grandpa) can take glasses off and use that excess focusing power to see up close.
When someone is farsighted, their eyes don’t have enough focusing power for distant objects, so their glasses have a “plus” sign indicating they need more focusing power. Those who are farsighted and young can use the power of their young flexible lens to add focusing power and see distant objects without glasses. They may strain to see near objects, and may need readers younger than others. They may not know they’re farsighted until their in their late 30s when they need readers to help.
LASIK can be used to increase or decrease the focusing power of your cornea, so you can see clearly at distance. It doesn’t affect the lens of our eyes at all. Aging still happens, and so see above “Perfect Eyes” which you’ll have after LASIK: You’ll need readers after age 40…but, there’s the option of monovision.
Monovision can be a great option (for those over 45ish) where we focus one eye on near objects and the other on distant objects. Many people are reluctant to consider it, but keep an open mind now! We’ll demonstrate it at our free comprehensive consult, it’s potentially reversible, and…we rarely reverse it because they thought they were too old!
Grandpa (Cataract surgery)
After cataract surgery a multifocal lens implant, even Grandpa can have perfect distance and near vision without glasses!
Hope for all of us
There’s an eye drop that is being tested now that may restore flexibility to our lens and change the paradigm in the next couple years. Learn more.
-Dr. Matthew Sharpe, MD