Blog post by: Eye Physicians of Long Beach

Older man looking over his glasses to read a tablet screen

Have you realized you hold your phone, magazines, or books at a distance to see them clearly? Perhaps you experience headaches, eye fatigue, or eye strain whenever you try to focus on near objects? Have you noticed that you need brighter light to complete tasks? These are all signs of having presbyopia.

Presbyopia is an age-related eye condition that gradually affects many people in their forties and older. It causes up-close objects to appear blurry, making reading, writing, and working on your computer difficult. Keep reading to learn more about presbyopia and your options for treating it!

Causes of Presbyopia

Before turning 40, the natural lens in your eye is soft and elastic. Being flexible helps the lens change its shape, allowing you to see images at various distances. As you grow older, your lens hardens and becomes rigid. Due to the loss of flexibility in the lens, you develop presbyopia that limits your close-up vision.

Correcting Presbyopia

There are different presbyopia treatments, including:

woman reading with glasses

Wearing Glasses and Reading Glasses

If you didn’t need corrective eyewear before developing presbyopia, reading glasses could help. They might also successfully address presbyopia if you recently started experiencing the symptoms of the eye condition. Reading glasses with multifocal lenses can be more effective if you already wear glasses to correct refractive errors like astigmatism, farsightedness, or nearsightedness. Multifocal lenses come with various focusing powers that improve vision at multiple distances. There are three types of multifocals:

Progressive Lenses

Progressive lenses offer excellent vision at all distances—close-up, distant, and everything in between. Progressive glasses combine prescriptions, so there are no lines on the lens.

Trifocal Lenses

With this type of lens, you’ll be able to see things far away, up-close, and at intermediate distances clearly. There are three visible lines on trifocals separating each prescription.

Bifocal Lenses

Bifocal lenses can only correct up-close and far vision. A bifocal lens has two parts. The bottom part helps you see things up-close, while the top lens allows you to see things further away.

Contact Lenses

Elderly man inserting contacts

If you’re already used to wearing contact lenses, you may still prefer them to correct presbyopia. You can correct presbyopia using special kinds of contact lenses:

Monovision Contact Lenses

Using monovision contact lenses entails having one contact that delivers clear near vision while the other provides you with crisp distance vision. Your brain automatically chooses one eye or the other depending on the task you’re performing.

Multifocal Contact Lenses

Multifocal contact lenses allow you to see well at all three distances, including if you have to see things up close, far away at a distance, or anything that’s in between.

Treating Presbyopia with Surgical Procedures

If you’re looking for a way to reduce your dependence on glasses and contact lenses, surgical procedures are the best option. One procedure available to treat presbyopia is refractive lens exchange (RLE).

Refractive Lens Exchange

refractive lens exchange

Refractive lens exchange is a procedure that’s very similar to cataract surgery. It replaces your natural lens with an artificial lens known as an intraocular lens (IOL). The main difference between RLE and cataract surgery is that a surgeon performs refractive lens exchange before patients develop cataracts. If you’re looking to avoid cataracts in the future, choosing RLE will allow you to continue seeing clearly and never worry about them.

Refractive lens exchange permanently corrects presbyopia. Your surgeon will remove the natural lens in your eye and replace it with an IOL during surgery. Replacing the natural lens with an IOL reduces or eliminates your reliance on glasses or contacts, depending on the IOL you choose before refractive lens exchange. There isn’t a one size fits all IOL. Your surgeon will guide you in choosing a lens that best suits your specific visual needs. Discuss what your visual goals after refractive lens exchange are, as well as your lifestyle needs, before making a choice.

What to Expect During Refractive Lens Exchange

Before RLE begins, your surgeon will first apply numbing drops. They may also give you a mild sedative to ensure you don’t experience discomfort or anxiety. Next, they will create a tiny incision in your cornea before using a specialized instrument to remove the natural lens. Your surgeon will then implant an intraocular lens to take the place of your natural lens.

The surgeon may place a patch over your eye for a short time after the surgery. RLE is an outpatient procedure that takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Most patients report considerably improved vision following refractive lens exchange. You’ll be able to resume normal activities, including work the next day. Your ophthalmologist will give you eye drops to use after the procedure that you’ll need to use for the next four weeks.

elderly lady smiling

Mild visual disturbances are not unusual as your eye heals and adjusts to the new lens. You may notice some glare and halos around bright lights, but they should disappear after a few weeks. The outcome of RLE in the form of sharper visual clarity usually takes 1 to 2 weeks. Almost 90 percent of patients who chose a premium IOL no longer need glasses or contacts after refractive lens exchange.

For those who still need visual aids after RLE, it’s usually for a specific activity, meaning they’re less dependent on contacts or glasses.

Correct Presbyopia for Good

Eye Physicians of Long Beach is proud to offer refractive lens exchange, a cutting-edge treatment for presbyopia. With RLE, you can say goodbye to presbyopia and enjoy a lifetime of clear vision. If you’re considering RLE, start your visual journey by scheduling an appointment with the experts at Eye Physicians of Long Beach in Long Beach, CA!