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At what age can I expect to need reading glasses?

After we celebrate our 40th birthday, we inevitably can’t see as well with our near vision as we use to.  Increasing light levels, pushing back cell phones and magazines to read them more easily, and for some, taking glasses off to “zoom” in on near work becomes more of an everyday hassle.  There are many ways people describe and deal with the loss in near vision as they get older.

To be technical, the loss of near vision as you age is medically known as presbyopia.  Presbyopia literally means ‘ageing eye.’  It is caused by a decrease in the elastic properties of the crystalline lens within the eye.  The inability to read small print and focus on objects up close become more difficult the older we get.

Presbyopia is not a disease, just a part of the natural process of ageing.

The question is, when will you experience presbyopia?

Presbyopia typically manifests in one’s early to mid-40’s. Initially you may find you get headaches when working on a computer, or are holding books and papers further away, or even have trouble reading in dimly lit rooms.

While the exact age when presbyopia starts varies by person and not everyone experiences the same symptoms at the same time, it is likely that you will start to experience presbyopia before you’re 45. And once you do, the effects will only progress over time.

One factor that can influence the onset of presbyopia is your vision health. For example, if you are nearsighted, spend a lot of time reading or working on a computer, or have been exposed to a lot of UV rays, you may experience presbyopia sooner. Alternatively, if you’ve always had perfect or near-perfect vision and worn sunglasses most of the time, the onset may be prolonged.

If you are nearsighted or farsighted, fear not, there are options your LASIK doctors can discuss with you. Blended-vision, or monovision LASIK may be an option for you.  During this procedure, your dominant eye will be corrected for distance vision, while the other eye will be left slightly nearsighted. Why would I want one eye slightly nearsighted?  Nearsightedness acts as a natural magnifier and will mask the presbyopia, thus allowing you to read without the need for reading glasses. Monovision does require some getting used to and is not a solution for everyone. Many patients opt to have LASIK to correct their nearsightedness of farsightedness in both eyes and pick up some over-the-counter, inexpensive reading glasses for up-close work. Your LASIK doctor will take time to learn about your work and hobbies and recommend the best option for you.

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