You’ve likely heard of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and maybe even astigmatism. But do you know what presbyopia is? If you’re in your forties or fifties, do you need reading glasses for reading menus, checking price tags, and looking at your smartphone?
You could be experiencing presbyopia! Keep reading to learn options to control and manage presbyopia.
What is presbyopia?
As we age, it affects all parts of the body. Unfortunately, this includes your eyes!
Presbyopia is completely normal. When eyes age, flexibility is often lost. Tiny muscles in the eye that once helped us to read and see close-up items become weaker and the eyes lose flexibility. Over time, it becomes difficult to see up close and perform activities like reading a book, newspaper, or sending a text message without a visual aid.
It’s easy to confuse this with refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. However, presbyopia is not a refractive error like these conditions, which are caused by misshapen eyes.
Ever wondered why your parents wore reading glasses? You can thank presbyopia! For years, reading glasses and bifocals have been the most common tools used to adapt to presbyopia-related vision changes.
Can you treat presbyopia?
Presbyopia isn’t a bad thing, but it can make your life extremely frustrating. If you’re familiar with taking your reading glasses on and off to see or holding items away from your face to properly focus your vision on them, you’ve experienced presbyopia firsthand.
There are options to adapt to or treat presbyopia, depending on your desired outcome. The first involves wearing bifocals. Bifocals often lack the seamless quality of vision that you may want. This is because there is a distance prescription on top and a near vision prescription on the bottom.
Reading glasses are another option to improve near-distance vision, but people often find the on-again-off-again routine to be exhaustive. Neither of these solutions truly get rid of presbyopia.
Even if you’ve never worn glasses before, your up close vision will get blurry around the age of forty. Reading glasses and bifocals are fine but there has got to be something better, right?
Although there is no age limit when it comes to LASIK, for patients in their forties and beyond, a variation of the procedure called monovision LASIK needs to be employed to address presbyopia.
During monovision LASIK, the surgeon corrects one eye for distance vision and the other eye is then intentionally made slightly nearsighted. This allows patients to switch their focus between near and far distances as needed.
One of the issues with monovision LASIK is that the results do not account for the eventual development of cataracts, another age-related vision disorder that all people develop if they live to be old enough.
Though monovision LASIK does provide an effective workaround for presbyopia, your vision will still worsen with the inevitable development of cataracts – meaning that when the lenses of the eye become too cloudy, your new clear vision disappears. You’ll then need cataract surgery.
The extended depth of focus IOL: Tecnis Symfony
An intraocular lens is a synthetic lens that can be implanted into the eye, replacing the eye’s natural lens. They are used most commonly during cataract surgery, but do have other applications. As the name suggests, an extended depth of focus (EDOF) IOL increases your range of vision, providing clear focus over a wide range of distances, effortlessly.
This is a big deal. Traditional (monofocal) IOLs cannot provide anywhere close to these results, often limiting vision to either distance or near vision, and not allowing for a seamless transition between the two.
With the Tecnis Symfony (which is an extended depth of focus IOL) clear vision is finally possible! The Tecnis Symfony uses advanced technology similar to that used in high-quality professional camera lenses, resulting in sharp image quality at multiple distances and improved vision as compared to your natural presbyopic lens or to other IOL options.
The Tecnis Symfony IOL can be used to treat presbyopia with a procedure called RLE, or Refractive Lens Exchange.
Refractive Lens Exchange
The Refractive Lens Exchange procedure is extremely similar to cataract surgery. The big difference between cataract surgery and refractive lens exchange is that during RLE you are replacing the natural lens of the eye after the onset of presbyopia but before the development of a cataract. The presbyopia is treated when the natural lens which has lost its flexibility is replaced with a lens implant, like the Tecnis Symfony, that can provide excellent vision from near to far distances.
What many people don’t realize is that cataracts often begin to form long before causing significant vision loss. For example, a cataract is often the cause of your glasses prescription changing after many years of stability. Patients that undergo RLE may have started developing a cataract in their lens without knowing it!
A major benefit of RLE is that the lenses of the eyes are replaced before cataracts can develop fully, avoiding this eventual vision loss. Because your natural lens is removed during RLE and replaced with an artificial lens, you will never get a cataract! The proteins that accumulate in the natural lens to cause a cataract cannot accumulate on or within your Symfony IOL!
Like cataract surgery, there is the possibility of a posterior capsule opacity (PCO). Also known as a “secondary cataract”, this entity is not a true cataract, but cloudiness that can develop in the capsule containing the intraocular lens implant. A PCO can cause blurred vision similar to that experienced with a cataract.
If this “secondary cataract” occurs, it can be removed with a procedure called a YAG laser capsulotomy. This procedure, which takes less than 5 minutes in the office, restores any hazy vision back to normal.
Live your life without glasses!
When it comes to deciding whether to get the Symfony IOL, consider your lifestyle needs. Many RLE patients find they no longer need glasses when:
- reading menus
- seeing the screen on a smartphone while texting
- looking at a computer screen
- checking price tags while shopping
These may seem like small things, but it’s often the smallest conveniences that make life easiest! Of course, let’s not forget that you’ll no longer need those pesky reading glasses. The constant on and off game or stashing extra pairs of glasses in your car can end!
Like any surgical procedure, RLE with the Tecnis Symfony IOL may not be right for everyone. That’s why you need to schedule a consultation with Dr. Rex Hamilton at the Santa Monica Eye Group! During your consultation, Dr. Hamilton will discuss your eye health and history. He’ll also go over expectations for the procedure and what to expect while recovering.
Ready to find out if the Tecnis Symfony IOL is right for you? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Rex Hamilton and the Santa Monica Eye Medical Group today! Serving the residents of the greater Los Angeles and Santa Monica area, we can help you find a solution for your presbyopia.