Presbyopia: why and how vision changes at midlife.
It’s already common understanding that lifestyle may affect both eyesight and vision, especially in children, students and others who do a lot of close work. But it’s known that there’s no “may” with the word “effect” when it comes to vision changes that occur with ageing. Whatever lifestyle is adopted by those at midlife, during the ensuing decades they’re going to have to face living a slower and quieter life as they retire, and accepting that their eyesight is changing, and the eyes will never function as they used to. And that’s just when they’d like to watch TV or read books, which require close up focus, according to Australian behavioural optometrists, Gary Rodney and Jacqueline Gattegno.
Presbyopia is the onset and slow progression of physical loss of focus as people age past midlife and they are slowly deprived of the clear vision needed when reading or doing close work over a period of time. It is the direct opposite to Myopia, shortsightedness which provides good vision when looking at something less than 20ft away, and only blurred images when the object is further away.
Rodney says both are refraction errors caused by the light rays, which enter the eyes carrying information about what is seen, not landing in the right place. The two are also similar in that they are increasingly affecting younger people than they did some decades ago. Myopia is now impacting on the lives of the very young, and presbyopia is being diagnosed as starting its slow process in some people in their early 30’s, and a larger number in their 40’s, in today’s world.
Both Smart Vision Optometry (SVO) practitioners leave the question open as to whether the change is going in the opposite direction on a similar path to that being taken at the opposite end of the age chain, where urban lifestyle with it’s indoor living, and too much exposure to screens and close work, all of which involve near focus, have been linked to the on-going epidemic of myopia which is currently spreading round the globe.
Presbyopia is on a similar but slower curve to Myopia. Like myopia, presbyopia is also on the rise compared to the days when the young played and the elderly retired. Then both spent more time outside, had the chance to exercise, and could enjoy exposure to natural light and the opportunity to focus on objects in the distance, Rodney says.
The rise in numbers is mostly attributed to city dwelling and schooling in the case of myopia, and to the increasing number of elderly people and their longer life expectancy for presbyopia. However, the possibility is that both could be responses by the brain to changes in the way sight and vision is focused, understood and used in the current environment in which they are living, Rodney says.
Statistics suggest that presbyopia’s curve is lower and slower than myopia’s. It is likely to rise from affecting 23% of the world population at the start of this century to 25% by 2050, while myopia is projected to reach 50% before then.
For more information on presbyopia, myopia and other refractive errors, or to make an appointment, visit the Smart Vision website: Optometrists Sydney: Optometry Services For Children and Adults | Smart Vision; for specific information about Myopia treatment and prevention visit Myopia Prevention: Solutions, Control And Treatment In Sydney; and for detailed information about Myopia Treatment visit Orthokeratology In Sydney: The Non Surgical Alternative.
To book an appointment for a thorough eye check-up, click here or Call the Bondi clinic on (02) 9365 5047 or the Mosman clinic on (02) 9969 1600.
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