Presbyopia: age-related long sight


The term presbyopia can sound a bit alien and rather worrying, but it's simply the name for becoming more long sighted as we get older. It's a normal part of ageing. 

Presbyopia literally means 'ageing eye'. It manifests as long-sightedness that progressively makes it more difficult to focus on up close objects as visual acuity decreases.

Why does it happen?

To see things up close, the lens of our eye changes thickness. It does this by tightening the ciliary muscles attached to the suspensory ligaments at the lens. As these muscles tighten, the lens becomes thicker and more curved. This means objects are brought into sharp focus on the retina.

Symptoms you may experience when suffering from presbyopia
  • Difficulty reading small print
  • Blurred vision when focussing on intricate tasks (eg sewing) or using a mobile phone
  • The need to hold reading materials at arm's length
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain 

As we get older, the eye's lens becomes more rigid and less elastic and the muscles become weaker. This means it cannot change shape as easily as it did when we were younger. With this loss of flexibility, eyes are less able to adjust properly to focus on near objects.

Presbyopia usually begins to occur at around 40 years old. Everyone experiences some loss of focus for up close objects as they age, but some will notice it more than others.

"I'm 41 and have definitely noticed a decline in my vision in the last year or so." Toomanychoices


woman at opticians

Can it be corrected?

Wearing glasses or contact lenses can help to treat presbyopia. Bifocal glasses are often prescribed as they are stronger in the lower half of the lens for close up vision, while still allowing distant vision through the upper half of the lens.

Laser surgery cannot help presbyopia because laser surgery alters the shape of the cornea to improve vision while presbyopia is a result of changes to the eye's lens.


"Presbyopia comes to us all. It's a progressive change so yes, it does get worse over time - sorry to be the bearer of bad news. You could always try varifocals then you don't have to peer over the top of your specs!" pickyvic






Last updated: over 1 year ago