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Presbyopia

Presbyopia

Definition

The term presbyopia means "old eye" and is a vision condition involving the loss of the eye's ability to focus on close objects.

Description

Presbyopia is a condition that occurs as a part of normal aging and is not considered to be an eye disease. The process occurs gradually over a number of years. Symptoms are usually noticeable by age 40-45 and continue to develop until the process stabilizes some 10-20 years later. Presbyopia occurs without regard to other eye conditions.

Causes and symptoms

In the eye, the crystalline lens is located just behind the iris and the pupil. Tiny ciliary muscles pull and push the lens, adjusting its curvature, and thereby adjusting the eye's focal power to bring objects into focus. As individuals age, the lens becomes less flexible and elastic, and the muscles become less powerful. Because these changes result in inadequate adjustment of the lens of the eye for various distances, objects that are close will appear blurry. The major cause of presbyopia is loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye. Loss of ciliary muscle power, however, is also believed to contribute to the problem.

Symptoms of presbyopia result in the inability to focus on objects close at hand. As the lens hardens, it is unable to focus the rays of light that come from nearby objects. Individuals typically have difficulty reading small print, such as that in telephone directories and newspaper advertisements, and may need to hold reading materials at arm's length. Symptoms include headache and eyestrain when doing close work, blurry vision, and eye fatigue. Symptoms may be worse early in the morning or when individuals are fatigued. Dim lighting may also aggravate the problem.

Diagnosis

Presbyopia is officially diagnosed during an eye examination conducted by eye specialists, such as optometrists or ophthalmologists. After completing optometric college, doctors of optometry screen patients for eye problems and prescribe glasses and contact lenses. In contrast, ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in eye diseases. They perform eye surgery, treat eye diseases, and also prescribe glasses and contact lenses.

A comprehensive eye examination requires at least 30 minutes. Part of the examination will assess vision while reading by using various strength lenses. If the pupils are dilated with drugs to permit a thorough examination of the retina, an additional hour is required. The cost of eye examinations can range from $40 to $250 depending on the complexity and site of the examination and the qualifications and reputation of the examiner. Some insurers cover the cost of routine eye examinations, while others do not. A thorough eye examination is recommended at regular intervals during the adult and aging years to monitor and diagnose eye conditions. However, individuals frequently self-diagnose presbyopia by trying on inexpensive mass-produced reading glasses until they find a pair that permits reading without strain.

Treatment

Presbyopia cannot be cured, but individuals can compensate for it by wearing reading, bifocal, or trifocal eyeglasses. A convex lens is used to make up for the lost automatic focusing power of the eye. Half-glasses can be worn, which leave the top open and uncorrected for distance vision. Bifocals achieve the same goal by allowing correction of other refractive errors (improper focusing of images on the retina of the eye).

In addition to glasses, contact lenses have also been found to be useful in the treatment of presbyopia. The two common types of contact lenses prescribed for this condition are bifocal and monovision contact lenses. Bifocal contact lenses are similar to bifocal glasses. The top portion of the lens serves as the distance lens while the lower serves as the near vision lens. To prevent rotation while in the eye, bifocal contacts use a specially manufactured type of lens. Good candidates for bifocal lenses are those patients who have a good tear film (moist eyes), good binocular vision (ability to focus both eyes together) and visual acuity in each eye, and no disease or abnormalities in the eyelids. The bifocal contact lens wearer must be motivated to invest the time it requires to maintain contact lenses and be involved in occupations that do not impose high visual demands. Further, bifocal contact lenses may limit binocular vision. Bifocal contact lenses are relatively expensive, in part due to the time it takes the patient to be accurately fitted.

An alternative to wearing eyeglasses or bifocal contact lenses is monovision contact lenses. Monovision fitting provides one contact lens that corrects for near vision and a second contact lens for the alternate eye that corrects for distance vision. If distance vision is normal, the individual wears only a single contact lens for near vision. Monovision works by having one eye focus for distant objects while the other eye becomes the reading eye. The brain learns to adapt to this and will automatically use the correct eye depending on the location of material in view. Advantages of monovision are patient acceptability, convenience, and lower cost.

Several problems exist with the use of contact lenses in the treatment of presbyopia. Some individuals experience headache and fatigue during the adjustment period or find the slight decrease in visual acuity unacceptable. Monovision contact lenses usually result in a small reduction in high-contrast visual acuity when compared with bifocal contact lenses.

Prognosis

The changes in vision due to aging usually start in a person's early 40s and continue for several decades. At some point, there is no further development of presbyopia, as the ability to accommodate is virtually gone.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent presbyopia.

Resources

ORGANIZATIONS

American Academy of Ophthalmology. 655 Beach Street, P.O. Box 7424, San Francisco, CA 94120-7424. http://www.eyenet.org.

American Optometric Association. 243 North Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63141. (314) 991-4100. http://www.aoanet.org.

Lighthouse National Center for Vision and Aging. 111 E. 59th St., New York, NY 10022. (800) 334-5497. http://www.lighthouse.org.

National Eye Institute. 2020 Vision Place, Bethesda, MD 20892-3655. (301) 496-5248. http://www.nei.nih.gov.

KEY TERMS

Accommodation The ability of the eye to change its focus from near to distant objects.

Binocular vision Using both eyes at the same time to see an image.

Ciliary muscles The small muscles that permit the lens to change its shape in order to focus on near or distant objects.

Lens (or crystalline lens) The eye structure behind the iris and pupil that helps focus light on the retina.

Visual acuity Sharpness or clearness of vision.

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Presbyopia

Presbyopia

Resource

Presbyopia is a naturally occurring type of farsightedness in which the ability to see close objects clearly is reduced as people get older.

KEYWORDS

for searching the Internet and other reference sources

Hyperopia

Ophthalmology

Optometry

Vision

As many adults pass age 40 or so, they find that it becomes harder to read newspapers and books. They start to hold these items farther away from their eyes than they had in the past, because they are trying to bring the print into focus. Eventually, as the joke goes, they find that their arms are too short. This condition is called presbyopia (pres-be-O-pe-a), which is from the Greek words meaning old eyes. The condition causes a person to become slightly farsighted.

Normally, small muscles bend the clear lens at the front of the eyeball to focus a close image, like the words on this page. But as a person reaches his thirties and forties, the lens loses its elasticity and becomes too thick and too rigid to flex easily. This causes presbyopia.

The first sign of presbyopia usually occurs when people find that they cannot read small print as easily as they did in the past. Their eyes may feel tired more quickly, or they may develop headaches during close work. Eventually, many people need eyeglasses for reading.

People who are already farsighted will need to see their ophthalmologists* if they notice these symptoms, as they will probably need stronger prescription eyeglasses to read. For people with nearsightedess, presbyopia may seem at first to help their vision. That is because for them, the condition changes how close images are focused in a way that makes them clearer. This is sometimes called second sight, and people with nearsightedness sometimes find for a time that they do not need their eyeglasses to read. Eventually, though, they will need eyeglasses or perhaps bifocals* to read properly.

* ophthalmologist
is a medical doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the eye.
* bifocals
or multifocal (progressive) lenses are prescription eyeglasses that have lenses divided into two or more sections. The bottom section allows a person to see things clearly that are close, and the top section allows a person to see things clearly that are far away.

See also

Farsightedness

Nearsightedness

Resource

The U.S. National Eye Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health, posts a resource list of eye health-related publications and organizations at its website. Telephone 301-496-5248 http://www.nei.nih.gov/publications/sel-org.htm

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presbyopia

presbyopia A loss of accommodation that normally develops in human eyes over the age of 45–50 years. Vision of distant objects remains unchanged but accommodation of the eye to near objects is reduced as a result of loss of elasticity in the lens of the eye. The defect is corrected by reading glasses using weak converging lenses.

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presbyopia

presbyopia (prezbi-oh-piă) n. difficulty in reading at the usual distance and in performing other close work, due to the decline with age in the ability of the eye to focus on close objects.

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presbyopia

presbyopia (path.) failure of eyesight characteristic of old age. XVIII. — modL., f. Gr. présbus old man + ṓps EYE + -IA1.

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Presbyopia

Presbyopia

Definition

The term presbyopia means "older eye," and is a vision condition involving the loss of the eye's ability to focus on close objects.

Description

Presbyopia is a condition that occurs as a part of normal aging. The condition develops gradually over a number of years. Symptoms are usually noticeable by age 40 to 45, and continue to develop until the process stabilizes some 10 or 20 years later. Presbyopia occurs without regard to other eye conditions.

Causes and symptoms

In the eye, the crystalline lens is located just behind the iris and the pupil. Tiny ciliary muscles pull and push the lens, adjusting its curvature, and thereby adjusting the eye's ability to bring objects into focus. As individuals age, the lens becomes less flexible and elastic, and the muscles become less powerful. Because these changes result in inadequate adjustment of the lens of the eye for various distances, objects that are close will appear blurry. The major cause of presbyopia is loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye. Loss of ciliary muscle power and loss of elasticity of the zonules that connect the ciliary muscle to the lens, however, are also believed to contribute to the problem.

Symptoms of presbyopia result in the inability to focus on objects close at hand. As the lens hardens, it is unable to focus the rays of light that come from near objects. Individuals typically have difficulty reading small print, such as that in telephone directories and newspaper advertisements, and may need to hold reading materials at arm's length. Symptoms include headache and eyestrain when doing close work, blurry vision, and eye fatigue. Symptoms may be worse early in the morning or when individuals are fatigued. Dim lighting may also aggravate the problem.

Diagnosis

Presbyopia is officially diagnosed during an eye examination conducted by optometrists (O.D.s) or ophthalmologists (M.D.s).

O.D.s or M.D.s, with the help of ophthalmic assistants, should perform a comprehensive eye exam to diagnose the condition. The assistant should take a detailed patient history prior to the exam. This is especially important when diagnosing premature presbyopia.

The optometrist or ophthalmologist, or in some cases a highly trained assistant, will begin the ocular examination by testing visual acuity and refraction. During the exam the clinician also will determine ocular motility and alignment, nearpoint of convergence, near fusional vergence amplitudes, relative accommodation measurements, accommodative amplitude and facility of accommodation.

To further determine presbyopia, the clinician should perform near retinoscopy and intermediate distance testing, which can be performed with a phoropter or trial lens.

There are five different types of presbyopia:

  • Incipient presbyopia is the earliest stage in which symptoms are documented. Usually the patient has trouble reading small print, but may perform well on testing and may actually reject a near vision prescription.
  • Functional presbyopia is the point at which patients usually notice the difficulties with near vision. The age when this occurs varies and depends on environment, task requirements, nutrition, and general health.
  • Absolute presbyopia is the result of continuous gradual decline in accommodation, and is the next phase after functional presbyopia. At this stage, little accommodative ability remains.
  • Premature presbyopia is the appearance of the disease at an earlier age than expected because of nutritional, environmental, or disease-related causes. Pharmaceuticals may also be a cause of premature presbyopia.
  • Nocturnal presbyopia occurs when accommodation decreases in low-light conditions.

Treatment

Presbyopia cannot be cured, but physicians can help patients compensate for it by prescribing reading, bifocal, or trifocal eyeglasses. A convex lens is used to make up for the lost automatic focusing power of the eye. Half-glasses can be worn, which leave the top open and uncorrected for distance vision. Bifocals achieve the same goal by allowing correction of other refractive errors (improper focusing of images on the retina of the eye).

In addition to glasses, contact lenses can be useful in the treatment of presbyopia. Contact lens technicians need to take the patient's medical history to ensure the patient is a good candidate for contact lenses. Some lenses require a greater care commitment, so each patient's expectations need to be discussed before any lens is prescribed.

The two common types of contact lenses prescribed for presbyopia are bifocal and monovision contact lenses.

Bifocal lenses come in two designs, simultaneous vision and alternating vision. Soft and rigid lenses are available in the simultaneous vision design, but only RGP lenses are available in the alternating vision design. Alternating vision lenses behave more like bifocal eyeglasses than the simultaneous design. This alternating lens allows patients to look through two distinct visual zones and adjust their gaze for distance vision or for reading. To prevent rotation while in the eye, bifocal contact lenses use a specially manufactured type of lens. Good candidates for bifocal lenses are those patients who have a good tear film (moist eyes), good binocular vision (ability to focus both eyes together) and visual acuity in each eye, and no disease or abnormalities of the eyelids. The bifocal contact lens wearer must be motivated to invest the time it requires to maintain contact lenses and be involved in occupations that do not impose high visual demands. Further, bifocal contact lenses may limit binocular vision. Bifocal contact lenses are relatively expensive, in part due to the time it takes the patient to be accurately fitted.

An alternative to wearing eyeglasses or bifocal contact lenses is monovision contact lenses. Monovision fitting provides one contact lens that corrects for near vision and a second contact lens for the alternate eye that corrects for distance vision. If distance vision is normal, the individual wears only a single contact lens for near vision. Monovision works by having one eye focus for distant objects while the other eye becomes the reading eye. The brain learns to adapt to this and will automatically use the correct eye depending on the location of material in view. Advantages of monovision lenses are patient acceptability, convenience, and lower cost.

Several problems exist with the use of contact lenses in the treatment of presbyopia. Health care professionals need to ask patients to report any headache, fatigue, or decrease in visual acuity during the adjustment period. Monovision contact lenses usually result in a small reduction in high-contrast visual acuity and reduced depth perception as compared with bifocal contact lenses. In addition, since monovision corrects one eye for distance and one for eye for near vision, intermediate distances are often out of focus, especially in absolute presbyopia.

Some ophthalmologists are performing laser thermal keratoplasty (LTK) on presbyopic patients. The LTK procedure was approved to treat hyperopia in mid-2000, but some surgeons are treating presbyopia as an "off-label" procedure. The LTK procedure takes three seconds per eye and involves no cutting or removal of corneal eye tissue. Instead, the surgeon uses a holium:YAG laser to direct eight simultaneous spots of laser energy to the periphery of the cornea to shrink the corneal collagen. The laser heats the corneal collagen and steepens its shape, improving its refractive (focusing) power. Presbyopes receiving this treatment should be advised of regression after possibly just a few years.

Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is another option for presbyopes. Surgeons correct one of the patient's eyes to achieve a monovision effect. This technique allows for good intermediate vision that facilitates reading menus or putting on makeup, but it can cause reduction in binocular distance vision and depth perception.

In preparatory interviews with patients, physicians and ophthalmic assistants should stress that with whatever surgical treatment the patient chooses, there will be regression. The aging process continues and therefore advancing presbyopia is unavoidable.

Prognosis

The changes in vision due to aging usually start in a person's early 40s and continue for several decades. At some point, there is no further development of presbyopia, as the ability to accommodate is virtually gone.

Health care team roles

Nurses, ophthalmic assistants, and well-trained technicians can perform a number of tasks previously required of an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Technicians can assist in diagnosing presbyopia by performing the first-level testing of refraction, as well as taking medical and lifestyle history, retinal photography, automated refractometry, automated keratometry, and corneal topography.

Allied health professionals also play an important role in performing the contact lens examination. Before prescribing contact lenses, technicians take a written and oral interview of the patient to determine if the patient is a suitable contact lens candidate. The technician must assess the technical aspects of the patient's ocular status. Next, the technician must discuss the patient's needs and expectations and evaluate all the information to make the correct lens choice. This is especially important for presbyopic patients choosing monovision, as this modality requires a larger commitment from patients.

The physician, or sometimes a contact lens technician, selects the lens material and design, then determines which trial lens is needed. A technician determines the lens parameters by using the results from the trial lens insertion. The patient's palpebral aperture and visual iris diameter are measured to determine the appropriate diameter for the contact lens. The technician will review the findings and make the recommendation to the prescribing physician for the proper contact lenses.

Before the patient is sent home with the lenses, the technician will give a detailed demonstration of inserting, removing, and cleaning the lenses.

Nurses and assistants also prepare patients for surgery by taking history, blood pressure and inserting eyedrops. They also may be involved in preparing the surgical areas, especially if surgery is performed in an ambulatory surgery center. Ophthalmic nurses are specially trained to assist in ocular surgeries.

Patient education

Doctors should emphasize with patients the challenges of choosing monovision and bifocal contact lenses to treat presbyopia. Doctors also should stress that surgical procedures are not permanent, and that patients may have to be retreated if regression occurs.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent presbyopia.

KEY TERMS

Accommodation— The ability of the eye to change its focus from near to distant objects.

Binocular vision— Using both eyes at the same time to see an image.

Ciliary muscles— The small muscles that permit the lens to change its shape in order to focus on near or distant objects.

Lens (or crystalline lens)— The eye structure behind the iris and pupil that helps focus light on the retina.

Visual acuity— Sharpness or clearness of vision.

Resources

BOOKS

Ernest, J. Terry. "Changes and Diseases of the Aging Eye." In Geriatric Medicine, edited by Christine K. Cassel, et al. New York: Springer, 1997.

Newell, Frank W. "Optical Defects of the Eye." In Ophthalmology: Principles and Concepts. St. Louis, MO: Mosby, 1996.

PERIODICALS

Gromacki, Susan J., and Eric Nilsen. "Comparison of Multifocal Contact Lens Performance to Monovision." Contact Lens Spectrum 16, no. 5 (May 2001): 34-38.

ORGANIZATIONS

American Academy of Ophthalmology. P.O. Box 7424, San Francisco, CA 94120-7424. (415) 561-8500. 〈http://www.eyenet.org〉.

American Optometric Association. 243 N. Lindbergh Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63141. (314) 991-4100. 〈[email protected]〉.

Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists, 721 Papworth Avenue, Suite 206, Metairie, LA 70005, (504) 835-3937, 〈http://www.clao.org〉.

Lighthouse National Center for Vision and Aging. 111 E. 59th Street, New York, NY 10022. (800) 334-5497. 〈http://www.lighthouse.org〉.

National Eye Institute. 2020 Vision Place, Bethesda, MD 20892-3655. (301) 496-5248; Publications: (800) 869-5248. 〈http://www.nei.nih.gov〉.

OTHER

Glazier, Alan, O.D., F.A.A.O. "Presbyopia Update: Helping Emerging Presbyopes." Optometric Management Online. 〈http://www.optometric.com/archive_results.asp?loc=articles/03062000115646am.html/〉.

Kattouf, Richard S., O.D. "Achieving Maximum Efficiency (Without Sacrificing Quality of Care)." Optometric Management Online. 〈http://www.optometric.com/archive_results.asp?loc=articles/03062000121028pm.html〉.

"New Technologies Continue to Expand Options for Treating Keratoconus, Myopia, Hyperopia." Primary Care Optometry News. 〈http://www.slackinc.com/eye/pcon/200101/newtec.asp〉.

"Optometric Clinical Practice Guideline Care of the Patient with Presbyopia." American Optometric Association Online. 〈http://www.aoanet.org〉.

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Presbyopia

Presbyopia

Definition

The term presbyopia means “older eye,” and is a vision condition involving the loss of the eye's ability to focus on close objects.

Description

Presbyopia is a condition that occurs as a part of normal aging. The condition develops gradually over a number of years. Symptoms are usually noticeable by age 40 to 45, and continue to develop until the process stabilizes some 10 or 20 years later. Presbyopia occurs without regard to other eye conditions.

Causes and symptoms

In the eye, the crystalline lens is located just behind the iris and the pupil. Tiny ciliary muscles pull and push the lens, adjusting its curvature, and thereby adjusting the eye's ability to bring objects into focus. As individuals age, the lens becomes less flexible and elastic, and the muscles become less powerful. Because these changes result in inadequate adjustment of the lens of the eye for various distances, objects that are close will appear blurry. The major cause of presbyopia is loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye. Loss of ciliary muscle power and loss of elasticity of the zonules that connect the ciliary muscle to the lens, however, are also believed to contribute to the problem.

Symptoms of presbyopia result in the inability to focus on objects close at hand. As the lens hardens, it is unable to focus the rays of light that come from near objects. Individuals typically have difficulty reading small print, such as that in telephone directories and newspaper advertisements, and may need to hold reading materials at arm's length. Symptoms include headache and eyestrain when doing close work, blurry vision, and eye fatigue. Symptoms may be worse early in the morning or when individuals are fatigued. Dim lighting may also aggravate the problem.

Diagnosis

Presbyopia is officially diagnosed during an eye examination conducted by optometrists (O.D.s) or ophthalmologists (M.D.s).

O.D.s or M.D.s, with the help of ophthalmic assistants, should perform a comprehensive eye exam to diagnose the condition. The assistant should take a detailed patient history prior to the exam. This is especially important when diagnosing premature presbyopia.

The optometrist or ophthalmologist, or in some cases a highly trained assistant, will begin the ocular examination by testing visual acuity and refraction. During the exam the clinician also will determine ocular motility and alignment, nearpoint of convergence, near fusional vergence amplitudes, relative accommodation measurements, accommodative amplitude and facility of accommodation.

To further determine presbyopia, the clinician should perform near retinoscopy and intermediate distance testing, which can be performed with a phoropter or trial lens.

There are five different types of presbyopia:

  • Incipient presbyopia is the earliest stage in which symptoms are documented. Usually the patient has trouble reading small print, but may perform well on testing and may actually reject a near vision prescription.
  • Functional presbyopia is the point at which patients usually notice the difficulties with near vision. The age when this occurs varies and depends on environment, task requirements, nutrition, and general health.
  • Absolute presbyopia is the result of continuous gradual decline in accommodation, and is the next phase after functional presbyopia. At this stage, little accommodative ability remains.
  • Premature presbyopia is the appearance of the disease at an earlier age than expected because of nutritional, environmental, or disease-related causes. Pharmaceuticals may also be a cause of premature presbyopia.
  • Nocturnal presbyopia occurs when accommodation decreases in low-light conditions.

Treatment

Presbyopia cannot be cured, but physicians can help patients compensate for it by prescribing reading, bifocal, or trifocal eyeglasses. A convex lens is used to make up for the lost automatic focusing power of the eye. Half-glasses can be worn, which leave the top open and uncorrected for distance vision. Bifocals achieve the same goal by allowing correction of other refractive errors (improper focusing of images on the retina of the eye).

In addition to glasses, contact lenses can be useful in the treatment of presbyopia. Contact lens technicians need to take the patient's medical history to ensure the patient is a good candidate for contact lenses. Some lenses require a greater care commitment, so each patient's expectations need to be discussed before any lens is prescribed.

The two common types of contact lenses prescribed for presbyopia are bifocal and monovision contact lenses.

Bifocal lenses come in two designs, simultaneous vision and alternating vision. Soft and rigid lenses are available in the simultaneous vision design, but only RGP lenses are available in the alternating vision design. Alternating vision lenses behave more like bifocal eyeglasses than the simultaneous design. This alternating lens allows patients to look through two distinct visual zones and adjust their gaze for distance vision or for reading. To prevent rotation while in the eye, bifocal contact lenses use a specially manufactured type of lens. Good candidates for bifocal lenses are those patients who have a good tear film (moist eyes), good binocular vision (ability to focus both eyes together) and visual acuity in each eye, and no disease or abnormalities of the eyelids. The bifocal contact lens wearer must be motivated to invest the time it requires to maintain contact lenses and be involved in occupations that do not impose high visual demands. Further, bifocal contact lenses may limit binocular vision. Bifocal contact lenses are relatively expensive, in part due to the time it takes the patient to be accurately fitted.

An alternative to wearing eyeglasses or bifocal contact lenses is monovision contact lenses. Monovision fitting provides one contact lens that corrects for near vision and a second contact lens for the alternate

eye that corrects for distance vision. If distance vision is normal, the individual wears only a single contact lens for near vision. Monovision works by having one eye focus for distant objects while the other eye becomes the reading eye. The brain learns to adapt to this and will automatically use the correct eye depending on the location of material in view. Advantages of monovision lenses are patient acceptability, convenience, and lower cost.

Several problems exist with the use of contact lenses in the treatment of presbyopia. Health care professionals need to ask patients to report any headache, fatigue, or decrease in visual acuity during the adjustment period. Monovision contact lenses usually result in a small reduction in high-contrast visual acuity and reduced depth perception as compared with bifocal contact lenses. In addition, since monovision corrects one eye for distance and one for eye for near vision, intermediate distances are often out of focus, especially in absolute presbyopia.

Some ophthalmologists are performing laser thermal keratoplasty (LTK) on presbyopic patients. The LTK procedure was approved to treat hyperopia in mid-2000, but some surgeons are treating presbyopia as an “off-label” procedure. The LTK procedure takes three seconds per eye and involves no cutting or removal of corneal eye tissue. Instead, the surgeon uses a holium: YAG laser to direct eight simultaneous spots of laser energy to the periphery of the cornea to shrink the corneal collagen. The laser heats the corneal collagen and steepens its shape, improving its refractive (focusing) power. Presbyopes receiving this treatment should be advised of regression after possibly just a few years.

Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is another option for presbyopes. Surgeons correct one of the patient's eyes to achieve a monovision effect.

This technique allows for good intermediate vision that facilitates reading menus or putting on makeup, but it can cause reduction in binocular distance vision and depth perception.

In preparatory interviews with patients, physicians and ophthalmic assistants should stress that with whatever surgical treatment the patient chooses, there will be regression. The aging process continues and therefore advancing presbyopia is unavoidable.

Prognosis

The changes in vision due to aging usually start in a person's early 40s and continue for several decades. At some point, there is no further development of presbyopia, as the ability to accommodate is virtually gone.

KEY TERMS

Accommodation —The ability of the eye to change its focus from near to distant objects.

Binocular vision —Using both eyes at the same time to see an image.

Ciliary muscles —The small muscles that permit the lens to change its shape in order to focus on near or distant objects.

Lens (or crystalline lens) —The eye structure behind the iris and pupil that helps focus light on the retina.

Visual acuity —Sharpness or clearness of vision.

Caregiver concerns

Nurses, ophthalmic assistants, and well-trained technicians can perform a number of tasks previously required of an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Technicians can assist in diagnosing presbyopia by performing the first-level testing of refraction, as well as taking medical and lifestyle history, retinal photography, automated refractometry, automated keratometry, and corneal topography.

Allied health professionals also play an important role in performing the contact lens examination. Before prescribing contact lenses, technicians take a written and oral interview of the patient to determine if the patient is a suitable contact lens candidate. The technician must assess the technical aspects of the patient's ocular status. Next, the technician must discuss the patient's needs and expectations and evaluate all the information to make the correct lens choice. This is especially important for presbyopic patients choosing monovision, as this modality requires a larger commitment from patients.

The physician, or sometimes a contact lens technician, selects the lens material and design, then determines which trial lens is needed. A technician determines the lens parameters by using the results from the trial lens insertion. The patient's palpebral aperture and visual iris diameter are measured to determine the appropriate diameter for the contact lens. The technician will review the findings and make the recommendation to the prescribing physician for the proper contact lenses.

Before the patient is sent home with the lenses, the technician will give a detailed demonstration of inserting, removing, and cleaning the lenses.

Nurses and assistants also prepare patients for surgery by taking history, blood pressure and inserting eyedrops. They also may be involved in preparing the surgical areas, especially if surgery is performed in an ambulatory surgery center. Ophthalmic nurses are specially trained to assist in ocular surgeries.

Patient education

Doctors should emphasize with patients the challenges of choosing monovision and bifocal contact lenses to treat presbyopia. Doctors also should stress that surgical procedures are not permanent, and that patients may have to be retreated if regression occurs.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent presbyopia.

Resources

BOOKS

Ernest, J. Terry. “Changes and Diseases of the Aging Eye.” In Geriatric Medicine, edited by Christine K. Cassel, et al. New York: Springer, 1997.

Newell, Frank W. “Optical Defects of the Eye.” In Ophthalmology: Principles and Concepts. St. Louis, MO: Mosby, 1996.

PERIODICALS

Gromacki, Susan J., and Eric Nilsen. “Comparison of Multifocal Contact Lens Performance to Monovision.” Contact Lens Spectrum 16, no. 5 (May 2001): 34–38.

ORGANIZATIONS

American Academy of Ophthalmology. P.O. Box 7424, San Francisco, CA 94120-7424. (415) 561-8500. http://www.eyenet.org.

American Optometric Association. 243 N. Lindbergh Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63141. (314) 991-4100. [email protected]

Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists, 721 Papworth Avenue, Suite 206, Metairie, LA 70005, (504) 835-3937, http://www.clao.org.

Lighthouse National Center for Vision and Aging. 111 E. 59th Street, New York, NY 10022. (800) 334-5497. http://www.lighthouse.org.

National Eye Institute. 2020 Vision Place, Bethesda, MD 20892-3655. (301) 496-5248; Publications: (800) 869 5248. http://www.nei.nih.gov.

OTHER

Glazier, Alan, O.D., F.A.A.O. “Presbyopia Update: Helping Emerging Presbyopes.” Optometric Management Online. http://www.optometric.com/archive_results.asp?loc=articles/03062000115646am.html/.

Kattouf, Richard S., O.D. “Achieving Maximum Efficiency (Without Sacrificing Quality of Care).” Optometric Management Online. http://www.optometric.com/archive_results.asp?loc=articles/03062000121028pm.html.

“New Technologies Continue to Expand Options for Treating Keratoconus, Myopia, Hyperopia.” Primary Care Optometry News. http://www.slackinc.com/eye/pcon/200101/newtec.asp.

“Optometric Clinical Practice Guideline Care of the Patient with Presbyopia.” American Optometric Association Online. http://www.aoanet.org.

Mary Bekker

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"Presbyopia." The Gale Encyclopedia of Senior Health: A Guide for Seniors and Their Caregivers. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Presbyopia." The Gale Encyclopedia of Senior Health: A Guide for Seniors and Their Caregivers. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/presbyopia

"Presbyopia." The Gale Encyclopedia of Senior Health: A Guide for Seniors and Their Caregivers. . Retrieved September 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/presbyopia

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia

Definition

The term presbyopia means "older eye," and is a vision condition involving the loss of the eye's ability to focus on close objects.

Description

Presbyopia is a condition that occurs as a part of normal aging. The condition develops gradually over a number of years. Symptoms are usually noticeable by age 40 to 45, and continue to develop until the process stabilizes some 10 or 20 years later. Presbyopia occurs without regard to other eye conditions.

Causes and symptoms

In the eye, the crystalline lens is located just behind the iris and the pupil. Tiny ciliary muscles pull and push the lens, adjusting its curvature, and thereby adjusting the eye's power to bring objects into focus. As individuals age, the lens becomes less flexible and elastic, and the muscles become less powerful. Because these changes result in inadequate adjustment of the lens of the eye for various distances, objects that are close will appear blurry. The major cause of presbyopia is loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye. Loss of ciliary muscle power and loss of elasticity of the zonules that connect the ciliary muscle to the lens, however, are also believed to contribute to the problem.

Symptoms of presbyopia result in the inability to focus on objects close at hand. As the lens hardens, it is unable to focus the rays of light that come from near objects. Individuals typically have difficulty reading small print, such as that in telephone directories and newspaper advertisements, and may need to hold reading materials at arm's length. Symptoms include headache and eyestrain when doing close work; blurry vision; and eye fatigue. Symptoms may be worse early in the morning or when individuals are fatigued. Dim lighting may also aggravate the problem.

Diagnosis

Presbyopia is officially diagnosed during an eye examination conducted by optometrists (O. D. s) or ophthalmologists (M. D. s).

O.D.s or M.D.s, with the help of ophthalmic assistants, should perform a comprehensive eye exam to diagnose the condition. The assistant should take a detailed patient history prior to the exam. This is especially important when diagnosing premature presbyopia.

The optometrist or ophthalmologist, or in some cases a highly trained assistant, will begin the ocular examination by testing visual acuity and refraction. During the exam the clinician will also determine ocular motility and alignment, nearpoint of convergence, near fusional vergence amplitudes, relative accommodation measurements, accommodative amplitude and facility of accommodation.

To further determine presbyopia, the clinician should perform near retinoscopy and intermediate distance testing, which can be performed with a phoropter or trial lens.

There are five different types of presbyopia:

  • Incipient presbyopia is the earliest stage in which symptoms are documented. Usually the patient has trouble reading small print, but may perform well on testing and may actually reject a near vision prescription.
  • Functional presbyopia is the point at which patients usually notice the difficulties with near vision. The age when this occurs varies and depends on environment, task requirements, nutrition , or general health.
  • Absolute presbyopia is the result of continuous gradual decline in accommodation, and is the next phase after functional presbyopia. At this stage, little accommodative ability remains.
  • Premature presbyopia is the appearance of the disease at an earlier age than expected because of nutritional, environmental, or disease-related causes. Pharmaceuticals may also be a cause of premature presbyopia.
  • Nocturnal presbyopia occurs when accommodation decreases in low-light conditions.

Treatment

Presbyopia cannot be cured, but physicians can help patients compensate for it by prescribing reading, bifocal, or trifocal eyeglasses. A convex lens is used to make up for the lost automatic focusing power of the eye. Half-glasses can be worn, which leave the top open and uncorrected for distance vision. Bifocals achieve the same goal by allowing correction of other refractive errors (improper focusing of images on the retina of the eye).

In addition to glasses, contact lenses can be useful in the treatment of presbyopia. Contact lens technicians need to take the patient's medical history to ensure the patient is a good candidate for contact lenses. Some lenses require a greater care commitment, so each patient's expectations need to be discussed before any lens is prescribed.

The two common types of contact lenses prescribed for presbyopia are bifocal and monovision contact lenses.

Bifocal lenses come in two designs, simultaneous vision and alternating vision. Soft and rigid lenses are available in the simultaneous vision design, but only RGP lenses are available in the alternating vision design. Alternating vision lenses behave more like bifocal eyeglasses than the simultaneous design. This alternating lens allows patients to look through two distinct visual zones and adjust their gaze for distance vision or for reading. To prevent rotation while in the eye, bifocal contact lenses use a specially manufactured type of lens. Good candidates for bifocal lenses are those patients who have a good tear film (moist eyes); good binocular vision (ability to focus both eyes together) and visual acuity in each eye; and no disease or abnormalities of the eyelids.

The bifocal contact lens wearer must be motivated to invest the time it requires to maintain contact lenses, and be involved in occupations that do not impose high visual demands. Further, bifocal contact lenses may limit binocular vision. Bifocal contact lenses are relatively expensive, in part due to the time it takes the patient to be accurately fitted.

An alternative to wearing eyeglasses or bifocal contact lenses is monovision contact lenses. Monovision fitting provides one contact lens that corrects for near vision and a second contact lens for the alternate eye that corrects for distance vision. If distance vision is normal, the individual wears only a single contact lens for near vision. Monovision works by having one eye focus for distant objects while the other eye becomes the reading eye. The brain learns to adapt to this and will automatically use the correct eye depending on the location of material in view. Advantages of monovision lenses are patient acceptability, convenience, and lower cost.

Several problems exist with the use of contact lenses in the treatment of presbyopia. Physicians need to ask patients to report any headache and fatigue or decrease in visual acuity during the adjustment period. Monovision contact lenses usually result in a small reduction in high-contrast visual acuity and reduced depth perception as compared with bifocal contact lenses. In addition, since monovision corrects one eye for distance and one for eye for near vision, objects at intermediate distances are often out of focus, especially in absolute presbyopia.

Some ophthalmologists are performing laser thermal keratoplasty (LTK) on presbyopic patients. The LTK procedure was approved to treat hyperopia in mid-2000, but some surgeons are treating presbyopia as an "off-label" procedure. The LTK procedure takes three seconds per eye and involves no cutting or removal of corneal eye tissue


KEY TERMS


Accommodation —The ability of the eye to change its focus from near to distant objects.

Binocular vision —Using both eyes at the same time to see an image.

Ciliary muscles —The small muscles that permit the lens to change its shape in order to focus on near or distant objects.

Lens (or crystalline lens) —The eye structure behind the iris and pupil that helps focus light on the retina.

Visual acuity —Sharpness or clearness of vision.


Instead, the surgeon uses a holium:YAG laser to direct eight simultaneous spots of laser energy to the periphery of the cornea to shrink the corneal collagen. The laser heats the corneal collagen and steepens its shape, improving its refractive (focusing) power. Presbyopes receiving this treatment should be advised of regression after possibly just a few years.

Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is another option for presbyopes. Surgeons correct one of the patient's eyes to achieve a monovision effect. This technique allows for good intermediate vision that facilitates reading menus or putting on makeup, but it can cause reduction in binocular distance vision and depth perception.

In preparatory interviews with patients, physicians and ophthalmic assistants should stress that with whatever surgical treatment the patient chooses, there will be regression. The aging process continues and therefore advancing presbyopia is unavoidable.

Prognosis

The changes in vision due to aging usually start in a person's early 40s and continue for several decades. At some point, there is no further development of presbyopia, as the ability to accommodate is virtually gone.

Health care team roles

Nurses, ophthalmic assistants, and well-trained technicians can perform a number of tasks previously required of an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Technicians can assist in diagnosing presbyopia by performing the first-level testing of refraction, as well as taking medical and lifestyle history, retinal photography, automated refractometry, automated keratometry and corneal topography.

Allied health professionals also play an important role in performing the contact lens examination. Before prescribing contact lenses, technicians take a written and oral interview of the patient to determine if the patient is a suitable contact lens candidate. The technician must assess the technical aspects of the patient's ocular status. Next, the technician must discuss the patient's needs and expectations and evaluate all the information to make the correct lens choice. This is especially important for presbyopic patients choosing monovision, as this modality requires a larger commitment from patients.

The physician, or sometimes a contact lens technician, selects the lens material and design, then determines which trial lens is needed. A technician determines the lens parameters by using the results from the trial lens insertion. The patient's palpebral aperture and visual iris diameter are measured to determine the appropriate diameter for the contact lens. The technician will review the findings and make the recommendation to the prescribing physician for the proper contact lenses.

Before the patient is sent home with the lenses, the technician will give a detailed demonstration of inserting, removing, and cleaning the lenses.

Nurses and assistants also prepare patients for surgery by taking history, blood pressure and inserting eyedrops. They also may be involved in preparing the surgical areas, especially if surgery is performed in an ambulatory surgery center. Ophthalmic nurses are specially trained to assist in ocular surgeries.

Patient education

Doctors should emphasize with patients the challenges of choosing monovision and bifocal contact lenses to treat presbyopia. Doctors also should stress that surgical procedures are not permanent, and that patients may have to be retreated if regression occurs.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent presbyopia.

Resources

BOOKS

Ernest, J. Terry. "Changes and Diseases of the Aging Eye." In Geriatric Medicine, edited by Christine K. Cassel, et al. New York: Springer, 1997.

Newell, Frank W. "Optical Defects of the Eye." In Ophthalmology: Principles and Concepts. St. Louis, MO: Mosby, 1996.

PERIODICALS

Gromacki, Susan J., Eric Nilsen. "Comparison of Multi focal Contact Lens Performance to Monovision." Contact Lens Spectrum 16, no. 5 (May 2001): 34-38.

ORGANIZATIONS

American Academy of Ophthalmology. P.O. Box 7424, San Francisco, CA 94120-7424. (415) 561-8500. <http://www.eyenet.org>.

American Optometric Association. 243 N. Lindbergh Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63141. (314) 991-4100. [email protected]

Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists. 721 Papworth Avenue, Suite 206, Metairie, LA 70005, (504) 835-3937, <http://www.clao.org>.

Lighthouse National Center for Vision and Aging. 111 E. 59th Street, New York, NY 10022. (800) 334-5497. <http://www.lighthouse.org>.

National Eye Institute. 2020 Vision Place, Bethesda, MD 20892-3655. (301) 496-5248; Publications: (800) 869-5248. <http://www.nei.nih.gov>.

OTHER

Glazier, Alan, O.D., F.A.A.O. "Presbyopia Update: Helping Emerging Presbyopes." Optometric Management Online. <http://www.optometric.com/archive_results.asp?loc=articles/03062000115646am.html/>.

Kattouf, Richard S., O.D. "Achieving Maximum Efficiency (Without Sacrificing Quality of Care)." Optometric Management Online. <http://www.optometric.com/archive_results.asp?loc=articles/03062000121028pm.html>.

"New technologies continue to expand options for treating keratoconus, myopia, hyperopia." Primary Care Optometry News. <http://www.slackinc.com/eye/pcon/200101/newtec.asp>.

"Optometric Clinical Practice Guideline Care of the Patient with Presbyopia." American Optometric Association Online. <http://www.aoanet.org>.

Mary Bekker

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

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  • APA

"Presbyopia." Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Presbyopia." Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/presbyopia-1

"Presbyopia." Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health. . Retrieved September 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/presbyopia-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.