What is Presbyopia?

17 June 2019

Author: Jacci

What is Presbyopia?

 Presbyopia is the inability to focus on objects which are close up. It is a progressive condition, generally affecting those after the 40 year milestone.

Just like age, it catches up with us all at some point in our lives- so it could be handy to become more acquainted with the condition.

Despite common belief, being presbyopic and being hyperopic (long-sighted) are not the same.

Hyperopia is a refractive error; whereby individuals can see objects far away clearly; whilst objects close up appear blurry.

Whereas presbyopia is an age related condition, in which the lens within the eye gradually loses its elasticity; resulting in the inability to focus on objects that are close.

Let’s explain some more…

What causes presbyopia?

Presbyopia is an inevitable condition, which naturally occurs as the eye ages; typically setting in from the age of 40.

Unlike hyperopia (long-sightedness) or myopia (short-sightedness), which occurs when the light-rays entering the eye meet either in front of or behind the retina, presbyopia relates to the insufficient function of the lens.

A young eye has lots of flexibility. This allows the muscles inside the eye to reshape the lens in order to focus on near or far objects.

Presbyopia kicks in because over time the lens loses this flexibility and in turn starts to harden; making it difficult for the eye to reshape the lens. This inhibits the eye from focusing light directly onto the retina.   

Instead, the light is focused behind the retina, causing poor vision for objects that are close up- fairly similar to the symptoms of hyperopia.

What are the symptoms of presbyopia?

The inability to focus on objects close up is the main symptom of presbyopia. If you are aged 40 or over you may start to notice that you are holding your mobile phone at arm’s length to read your text messages- this is all down to presbyopia.


Common symptoms of presbyopia include:

  • Eyestrain or headaches during close up work such as reading
  • Problems focusing on objects close up
  • Difficulty reading small print
  • Needing brighter lighting when doing close work
  • Squinting

Is there a treatment for presbyopia?

Presbyopia is easily treated with glasses and contact lenses. Progressive lenses are used in this instance to provide good vision at all distances.

For those who do not wish to live dependently on visual aids, a permanent solution is available called Lens Replacement Surgery (Refractive Lens Exchange).

Lens Replacement Surgery refers to the removal of the natural lens in replace of an artificial one. This artificial lens will last within the eye for a lifetime.

Patients are offered either a monofocal lens or a multifocal lens depending on their lifestyle and suitability.

Multifocal lenses are the most popular choice due to their diversity. Patients are able to enjoy visual clarity at multi-focal points; near, intermediate and distant. This ultimately eliminates their dependence on glasses all together.

Choosing the right lens for me

Dependant on suitability, patients have the option of choosing a monofocal or a multifocal lens implant for their lens replacement surgery. This needn’t be a cause for stress; the surgeon will make an educated decision, which meets both your needs and expectations.  

So what are the main differences between the two lenses?

A monofocal lens implant will provide one focal point (near or far), so the patient will still need to wear spectacles to enjoy a full range of vision; unless they opt for monovision (a treatment in which one lens is implanted to see better at a distance and the other to see better close-up.).

The multifocal lens implant on the other hand, is intended to correct vision at any given distance and only available through the private sector. 

For Ultralase the PanOptix lens is a great option for patients looking to say goodbye to their glasses. PanOptix patients are able to enjoy visual clarity at optimum distances. 



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