There’s a visual phenomenon that occurs for all humans during their 40s that is often very difficult to accept and adjust to, particularly for people who have had excellent vision all of their lives. The condition, called presbyopia, occurs when the intra-ocular lens (lens inside of the eyeball) gradually becomes less flexible. Typically, the purpose of this lens is to allow for clear focus at all distances. It functions a bit like the zoom of a camera – zooming out and zooming in. The problem is that as this lens stiffens, the ability to zoom in reduces and eventually goes away.
So what does this mean for us? Well, it usually begins with blurriness at a distance after you’ve been reading or focusing up close for a long time. Or you might notice you have to push things farther away to see them clearly. And overtime, you simply can’t see the smaller print and you begin avoiding the near activities you used to love.
It’s important to realize that this phenomenon is not caused by any other health or aging condition. It happens to pristine athletes just as it happens to anyone else. For some people it may begin at 38 for others 48, but more commonly it starts being noticeable around age 41 or 42. Some people think it’s associated with “older age”, but I think it’s more of a milestone of sorts – like when you learn to walk or go through puberty. It literally affects all people so it’s nothing to feel bad about but it is an annoyance!
Sometimes the occurrence can have minimal impact especially if one or more of your eyes is mildly nearsighted. The ideal scenario is having one eye see perfectly at a distance and the other eye be nearsighted to provide for the near vision. Those people often get away without having to wear any glasses or contacts.
For the rest of us, what are the options? There are many, many options depending on your lifestyle and wishes ranging from reading glasses, uniquely prescribed eyewear options, multi-focal contact lenses, or surgery options. There are pros and cons to all of them but there always seems to be a really nice fit for everyone! The key is to talk it over with your doctor so that presbyopia is relatively “no big deal”.