Presbyopia is another name for the long-sightedness we develop as we head into our mid-40’s. Everyone over the age of forty has presbyopia to a greater or lesser extent. It is caused by a combination of a stiffening of the lens and a weakening of the eye muscles. Presbyopia treatment can allow people to move beyond using reading correction glasses.

Man suffering from presbyopia needing reading vision glasses

Causes of Presbyopia

Age related long sightedness (presbyopia) happens because the lens in your eye thickens as you grow older. Your eye sees by allowing light to pass through the cornea and lens and focus on the retina at the back of the eye. In younger people with normal eyesight, the lens flexes so that the light is focused accurately on the retina no matter what the reading distance is.

However, in people over the age of forty, the lens has less flexibility so cannot always focus accurately when you’re looking at something close up. This deteriorates further the older we get and we find ourselves needing more and more power in our reading glasses to cope.



The first sign of presbyopia is often eye strain when reading for long periods of time. Things keep going in and out of focus and you can often have a headache which gets worse as the day goes on.

If you’re not used to wearing glasses, the reality of now having to wear them when reading or looking at your phone can be very annoying!

If you already wear glasses, you’ll find you need varifocal or bifocal lenses to allow you to see far as well as near. If you wear contact lenses, then you’ll also need reading glasses on top of your lenses to help with near work. All this can get quite cumbersome and it’s no wonder that people begin to look at options to allow them to read without glasses.

Examining a patient for the onset of presbyopia

Treating presbyopia with laser eye surgery

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to treat presbyopia with laser eye surgery. Your surgeon can use the LASIK procedure to reshape your corneas, adjusting one eye for near vision and one eye for distance. This is called Blended Vision.

If LASIK is not a suitable option for you, refractive lens exchange (RLE) is an alternative solution, by which the natural lens in your eye is replaced by an artificial one.

You can read about both these procedures in the section on reading vision correction.