Presbyopia: “My Arms Aren’t Long Enough Anymore”
Everyone of us living an average North American lifespan will encounter a visual condition called presbyopia. This condition occurs between the ages of 40 and 45, and consists of a progressively diminished ability to focus on near objects due to the hardening of the eye’s natural lens. Presbyopia essentially means that the patient has developed a far-sighted prescription.
Initial Symptoms of Presbyopia:
- Difficulty reading small print;
- Habitually holding reading material at arm’s length;
- Problems seeing nearly-situated objects;
- Headaches; and
- Eye strain
Correcting Presbyopia with Progressive Lenses:
Glasses are the easiest, safest, and most efficient corrective option for presbyopia. In their simplest form, glasses that correct presbyopia will be prescribed for the patient’s reading prescription and are known as “readers”. Your optician can calculate the right reading power based on your prescription, and your reading habits. While these are a straight-forward option, glasses such as these consist of only single power, or “single vision”, lenses with a very short focal length. Focal length corresponds to the distance our eyes can focus on a given object. When wearing reading glasses, the patient will need to remove them every time they need to look beyond 20 inches. Given their lack of practicality, several different options exist in order to correct presbyopia.
These are the “traditional” bifocal lenses. They provide two focal lengths – one power, or prescription, for distance, and one power for reading. The inherent problem with line bifocal lenses is that they lack the intermediate power essential for computer use. Also, the physical line can make the wearer feel as though images are moving or jumping in front of them, diminishing visual clarity. Furthermore, the physical line lacks modernity and is seen as being less fashion-forward.
What are progressive lenses? Progressive lenses or “no-line bifocals”, “invisible bifocals”, “multifocal lenses”… These type of lenses have the patient’s distance, intermediate, and reading prescriptions built into one lens without any physical line . These lenses offer a smooth, continuous transition from near-, intermediate-, and distant-focal lengths, with no lines or unsettling image jumps. Progressive lenses are made up of several powers or prescriptions, and are known as “multi-focal” lenses. Due to their inherent complexity, not all progressive lenses are created equal.
Modern progressive lenses have been around for more than 50 years. As such, vast improvements have been made. There are many different kinds of progressive lenses from the very basic to the more advanced, high-end products. Companies such as Nikon, Essilor, Seiko, and Zeiss spend millions of dollars on the research and development of better and more efficient lenses to serve patients better. Digital, technologically-advanced multi-focal lenses now offer presbyopic patients the greatest visual optimization.
Similar to luxury vehicles that offer more options and a better driving experience in comparison to a base car model, higher end progressive lenses like Nikon Seemax Master or Essilor Varilux Physio with free-form design, wave-front, and digital technology, offer wider usable area, minimum distortion, and a greater visual experience overall.
Progressive lenses do not offer a ‘one size fits all’ solution – each unique individual experiences unique visual needs. When it comes time to get your first pair of progressive lenses, seek advice from your optician.
You have only one set of eyes, without any spares; take care of your vision.
Vincent Afrouzi, R.O.