My Arms Are Getting Shorter!

16 11 2011

That dreaded word – bifocals!   Seems like the worst news that I can tell somebody.  That you need help to focus your eyes up close now.  I guess it’s one of the first signs of our mortality and we are not getting any younger.  Men seem to deny it longer since they must think it’s a sign of weakness.  Women seem to be affected more emotionally, maybe because they think it is a sign they are officially old.  Either way, it seems to be a defining moment in people’s lives.  I know for me, it stinks!

Presbyopia is the official diagnosis for when you can’t focus for near tasks any longer.   The process of loosing our focusing ability over the years starts at about 6 years old and then hits the wall anywhere from 40 to 45 generally.    No one escapes it, not even eye doctors.

The crystalline lens in the eye for the most part is made up of protein, much like an egg yolk.  Over the course of time, the proteins harden and the lens looses it’s flexibility that allows it to change focus from far to near.  I like to compare the eye at that point to binoculars that you can see far away like the moon but the focusing knob is rusted up and you can’t get it to focus on the back fence.  It won’t change focus or at least very easily.  So guys, take heart, it’s not a “muscle thing.”

At this time, there are not any vitamins or exercises to help with this natural hardening of the lens.  You might delay it a few months or a year with good nutrition, staying hydrated and wearing ultra-violet light protection.  Wearing or not glasses will not keep it from happening.  There is word on the street of the possibility of an eyedrop in the future that would help keep the lens proteins from changing.  That would still take many years to be commercially available if it did work.

For now, we can help by using either spectacle lenses or contact lenses.  For eyeglasses, there are the old-fashioned lined bifocal that your grandpa probably used to wear.  They work but you see a line in your vision and the image seems to jump as your line of sight crosses over the line.  The best option are “no-line” bifocals or the more technically correct term, “Progressive addition lenses,” which are multifocal lenses without any lines.  The newest progressive lenses are high-definition, digitally designed and diamond cut to the most optically pure lens ever.  One brand I highly recommend are the Hoya Free Form lenses, which I feel are the most advanced lenses on the market.

Contact lenses come in multifocals now such as the Air Optix Multifocal and work better than ever but…the vision is often not as sharp as glasses.  If you are a good candidate, the success rate is around 50%.  If you have a significant amount of astigmatism, there are a few lenses that can work for that to.

Either way, correcting presbyopia is a compromise.  There is just not anyway to design an optical device that replicates the way the eye used to work.  We just compensate in the best manner possible.  At least now we have high-tech devices that work fairly well.  Many hundred years ago we just had to hire a young apprentice that could do the small, intricate work for us!

So when those arms get too short and the near print is too blurry, don’t worry.  It’s not old age or a sign of weakness, it’s just aging.  And we can help!

Courtesy of Dumas Vision Source, PLLC and Dr Tory W. Moore, Optometric Glaucoma Specialist.    Serving the Dumas, Texas,  Moore County and upper Texas Panhandle area for 21 years.   Call (806) 935-2020 for appointment or visit our optical gallery without an appointment.  Connect on Twitter @eyedocdumas and like our Facebook business page:  Dumas Vision Source You also can visit our website for more information.   Tory Moore, OD  – “A Hometown Eye Doctor You Know and Can Trust!”




One response

16 11 2011
Dean Russell

Great article, insightful, practical, with solutions and humor! Thanks

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