Are you 40 years old or older and notice that your near vision is getting progressively worse? Do you find yourself reaching for your glasses to see objects or print that is up close, even though you have never had any vision problems before?
If you responded “yes,” you may be one of the hundreds of millions of Americans over the age of 40 who suffer from presbyopia. But don’t worry! Manhattan LASIK and PRK surgeon Sandra Belmont, MD, FACS can help.
What Is Presbyopia?
Presbyopia is an age-related vision problem that gradually progresses as you get older. The onset of presbyopia usually occurs at about age 40 or so.
In contrast to nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, which are caused by an irregularly shaped cornea, presbyopia is thought to occur as the eye’s natural lens starts to thicken and lose flexibility with age. As the lens becomes thicker and less flexible, it becomes more difficult for the eye to focus up close.
Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Presbyopia
Traditional nonsurgical treatments for presbyopia include bifocal lenses, which are comprised of two prescriptions — the main section of the eyeglass lens has a prescription for distance vision while the lower section of the lens has a prescription for near vision. Another nonsurgical treatment option is multifocal contact lenses, which allow the patient to see clearly at multiple distances.
How LASIK / PRK Treats Presbyopia
Another option is for Dr. Belmont to perform LASIK or PRK to treat presbyopia. However, there is a caveat: The traditional approach to using LASIK and PRK to treat presbyopia involves creating monovision.
With monovision, an individual can see clearly in the distance with one eye and up close with the other eye. When the person has both eyes open, he or she is typically able to see clearly at multiple distances.
When using LASIK or PRK to treat presbyopia, Dr. Belmont intentionally leaves the patient’s non-dominant eye slightly nearsighted, so he or she can see clearly up close without prescription lenses. Again, with both eyes open, a patient should be able to see well at several distances.
During your consultation, you can try monovision with glasses or contact lenses to determine if you can benefit from it. If so, you may be an appropriate candidate for the procedure.
Multifocal LASIK to Treat Presbyopia
A procedure called “multifocal LASIK,” or “presbyLASIK,” is currently undergoing U.S. clinical trials to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the laser eye surgery. With multifocal LASIK, Dr. Belmont would use an excimer laser to create multiple zones on the cornea. This would allow patients to see through the different zones simultaneously, which in turn would allow them to see clearly at near, intermediate and far distances at the same time.
What to Do If You Think You Have Presbyopia
If you are at least 40 or 50 years old and are tired of reaching for your reading glasses or bifocals to see the objects in front of you, you might have presbyopia. If you think this is the case, contact Dr. Belmont. She can evaluate the health of your eyes and review your treatment options with you.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Belmont to find out if you have presbyopia, contact Belmont Eye Center by calling (212) 486-2020 or by clicking here.