Presbyopia, also known as “short arm syndrome”, is a medical term used to describe a vision defect where the natural lens loses its accommodation power. Accommodation power refers to the ability of the eye lens to change its focal distance, depending on whether the object in view is placed up-close or far away. This is a common disorder that virtually everyone experiences in their middle age. Specifically, at the onset of the 40s, people experience blurred vision while looking at nearby objects, such as when reading or sewing.
Presbyopia is different from other vision disorders, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism these are all concerned with the shape of the eyeball or the corneal tissue and are caused due to genetic factors, trauma, or disease. However, Presbyopia is an age related disorder and is believed to be caused due to a gradual loss of elasticity of the natural eye lens. As the eye lens stiffens with age, it is difficult for the lens to focus up close.
Presbyopia is not normally curable, but the loss of accommodation power can be compensated for by using eyeglasses or contact lenses. A few patients might require bifocal or progressive lenses. As the ability to focus deteriorates, the prescription lens needs to be changed accordingly. In order to eliminate the dependence on bifocals or reading glasses, some people opt for a method called “monovision”, where one eye is corrected for near and the other for far. However, monovision may interfere with depth perception, and not everyone can adapt to monovision.
When Presbyopia sets in, LASIK can be used to produce monovision. However, it’s recommended that at first you try monovision with contact lenses, in order to be sure that you can adapt to the change. Another surgical option, which was approved in March 2004 by the Food and Drug Association (FDA), is a procedure known as conductive keratoplasty (CK).
Research is ongoing and it suggests that a cure for Presbyopia is quite possible. New surgical procedures also promise solutions for those who don’t wish to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses while suffering from Presbyopia.