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Presbyopia Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis & Treatment by Your Washington, DC, Optometrist

Do you find it hard to read small print unless you hold it at arm’s length? Are you nearsighted and suddenly need to remove your glasses to see anything close?

Although you may be disturbed to answer yes to these questions, don’t worry – this vision condition is just a normal part of aging. In fact, most people over age 40 experience the symptoms of presbyopia, which means “old eye” in Greek.

What causes presbyopia?

In a healthy eye, a transparent lens sits behind the colored part of your eye (iris). This lens changes shape constantly in order to focus light onto your retina. In order to shift focus between close and distant objects, the lens needs to be flexible. However, as you age, the lens of your eye adds layers of tissue, hardens, and loses its flexibility. Consequently, it becomes harder to focus on anything close-up. Reading small letters and performing detailed tasks (such as needlework) turn into a challenge.

Presbyopia is not associated with any other medical issue or vision impairment – and it makes no difference if you already wear prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses.

How is presbyopia diagnosed?

When patients over age 40 visit our Washington, DC, optometrist with complaints that they can’t read any small print, it’s usually a clear sign that they have presbyopia.

Signs that lead to a diagnosis of presbyopia include:

  • Blurry near vision
  • Eyestrain, headaches or eye fatigue or headaches when reading or doing close work
  • Trouble focusing on small print
  • A need to hold reading material at arm’s length in order to see it clearly
  • Needing brighter lighting for close vision

What is the treatment for presbyopia?

While there is no way to prevent or reverse presbyopia, our Washington, DC, optometrist can offer various treatments.

Eyeglasses – Readers and Multifocals

Reading glasses, nicknamed “readers”, act as magnifiers that help you to see small print or focus on work done close-up.

Bifocals have two built-in lens prescriptions, usually with the lower segment for near vision and the upper segment for distance. Multifocal glasses with progressive addition lenses (PALs) also provide vision for distance and near, yet the lenses have a gradual transition of powers – instead of two distinct zones. Many people prefer progressive lenses because they are more attractive, with no bisecting line across the lenses. In general, bifocals and multifocals are most suitable for people who already wear prescription eyewear for nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.

Bifocal/Multifocal Contact Lenses

If you prefer wearing contact lenses over glasses, then this is a fantastic, high-tech solution for presbyopia. Bifocal and multifocal contacts are available in both soft and hard versions. They offer superior freedom and convenience, along with a full field of view. You can look up, down and to the sides, instead of viewing upwards or looking over your glasses to see far. Some people take a while to adapt to wearing multifocal contacts.

Monovision is an alternative contact lens option. This system divides your vision for close and far by using your stronger eye to see distance and your weaker eye to see near. Our Washington, DC, optometrist will assess your vision condition to determine which lens power is best for each eye.


Surgical procedures for presbyopia treatment include conductive keratoplasty (CK), LASIK eye surgery, corneal inlays or a refractive lens exchange (RLE), in which a new intraocular lens is implanted to replace the old hardened lens. When LASIK surgery is performed to treat presbyopia, it works by leaving one eye nearsighted – in the monovision method.

Are you looking for a vision solution that helps you read easily, without holding your book far away from your face? Schedule an appointment with our Washington, DC, optometrist to find a better presbyopia treatment.

Your Washington Eye Doctors can help with your sports too! Ask us about Sports and Specialty Eyewear fittings in the Washington DC area.