So you hit the big 40 and realise that your mobile phone or laptop isn't that clear anymore. Or you find yourself holding the newspapers further so that you can read it. How?

TLDR summary: Both single-vision reading glasses as well as multifocal lenses can help you with your presbyopia, but there are also other solutions to meet your visual needs.

More commonly known as "old flower" or 老花 (lao hua), presbyopia is a condition that affects everyone above the age of 40. It sets in slowly, making near objects like our mobile phone, magazines, or computer difficult to see. As we age, so do our eyes, which slowly lose the ability to focus as well. In more advanced presbyopia (>65 years old), even someone sitting across the table can look blurry. While we can't undo aging, we can use it as an excuse for a pair of nice glasses.

Here are various options and issues to explore:

Reading Glasses
The first thing that comes to mind is always reading glasses. This simple solution is suitable if you do not wear glasses in the first place. As these are "single-vision", putting them on would mean that everything near would be clear, while distant objects would become blur - and so you can't walk around with these glasses.

Progressives or Multifocal Lenses
This is suitable if you are already wearing glasses, or need to correct your distant vision as well. These lenses come with 'power' for looking at both far and near, and everything in between. This means that you only need one pair of glasses for your everyday activities. So no fumbling around your bag for your reading glasses, and hopefully no more forgetting your glasses at the table.

Single-Vision VS Multifocals
Multifocal / Progressive Lenses isn't a magic pill designed to resolve all problems. The main disadvantage of progressives is the smaller functional space - since there is both distant and near powers within one lens, the area that you can use for reading or looking at the computer or walking around is smaller. Also, it does take time to learn and get accustomed to using such lenses, although the majority of new wearers eventually get used to it (but not all!). Many factors, including your prescription and how keen you are to try progressives, should be taken into consideration.

Two Pairs of Glasses

If you do not wish to use progressives (or you've tried but it doesn't work for you), there is also the option of having two separate pairs of glasses - one for distant vision and one for near vision. The obvious disadvantage is that you have to carry both glasses along with you.

The Intermediate "Computer Glasses"

If you spend lots of time with the computer or writing and reading, this is a very good idea! Intermediate lenses are designed for 'workspace' use - where you can only look at intermediate or near objects, but this also means you have the whole lens specifically for this purpose - which makes it more comfortable than a pair of progressive lenses that has the distance-area included! These can be done as a single-vision lens (just one working distance) or as a multi-focal (multiple working distance). We also have an article about such lenses that you should read.

Contact-Lens Related

If you currently use contact lenses, you may want to wear a pair of reading glasses over the contact lenses when doing near tasks, and removing it when it's not needed. To make do without glasses totally, there is the option of multifocal contact lenses or doing monovision (one eye for near vision and the other eye for distant vision). Suitability of wear should be discussed and trials to achieve the ideal vision and comfort can be carried out.
(Note: We do not currently sell contact lenses but may do so in future, nonetheless we are glad to give advice if you require)

The solution to presbyopia can be as simple as a pair of reading glasses, or can entail multiple pairs of glasses. For instance, if you have a prescription for looking at far, and also need excellent vision for very small and detailed tasks at near for work use, but also go between typing on the computer and writing on weekends, then the solution would very likely involve office lenses (for going between the computer and writing), higher-powered reading glasses (for detailed near tasks), and either single-vision or progressives for 'walking about' use.

It is important to consider your prescription, your visual tasks (what you need to see), as well as what you expect from your vision, in order to find the best solution.

The difference between single-vision lenses (for either distant or near tasks) and multi-focal lenses (also known as progressives or vari-focals).


Glasses make it worse?

A common myth is that wearing glasses to correct the presbyopia will actually make the presbyopia worse. This is clearly not true - the amount of presbyopia increases with age. However wearing glasses do make us appreciate how clearly (and probably relaxingly) we can see and hence make us prefer to have the glasses rather than do without.

Myopic means no presbyopia?

Another common myth is that people who are myopic will not develop presbyopia. This, once again, is not the case. The vision, 'au naturel' without glasses for a myopic eye is near being clear, and far being blur - this allows them to naturally see near; however when glasses are worn for distant vision, near vision is actually poor, just like every one else with presbyopia. Hence, presbyopia is actually the inability to focus at near objects when the eye is corrected for distant vision.

Non-myopic means earlier presbyopia?
That's the word on the street, but actually not true.
1) The first reason is as mentioned above, because people with myopia can remove their glasses to see near, so they don't think that they have presbyopia, whereas people with 'perfect eyesight' have to wear reading glasses, 'certifying' them presbyopic.
2) Another reason is hyperopia - which is not something we hear often. Myopia is well known - needing glasses to look at distant objects. Hyperopia, on the other hand, is less well-known. Hyperopia means that when the eye is looking at a distant object, it is already using 'energy' to focus; this means that when the eye looks at something near, even more 'energy' is required to focus! Of course, when we are young, we have great 'energy' and so this focusing isn't a problem - and so the hyperopia doesn't get diagnosed and you don't know about it. When we age, the eye loses the ability to focus and so the effects of hyperopia set in - making near very difficult to see (and perhaps even distant objects as well!). This usually sets in around 30-40 years old, although it can vary depending on the 'degree' or amount of hyperopia. We don't correct this using reading glasses - but rather a pair of glasses with hyperopic degree that can be worn all day, which helps with both far and near vision...until presbyopia sets in ;)

We make things clear for you, to you. Let us help you find the best solution for your presbyopia. Visit us at Blk 194 Kim Keat Ave, Toa Payoh.