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Patient education: Presbyopia and refractive errors (The Basics)

Patient education: Presbyopia and refractive errors (The Basics)

What is presbyopia? — Presbyopia is a condition that impairs vision and that happens as a normal part of aging. It changes the ability of the lens in the eye to focus (figure 1). People who have presbyopia have trouble focusing on things that are up close. They often have to hold things at arm's length to see them well.

What are refractive errors? — Refractive errors are a group of disorders that impair vision because the cornea (a structure in the front of the eye) cannot focus light or images onto the back of the eye the right way. Refractive errors can occur at any age. The most common refractive errors are:

Myopia ("near-sightedness") – People who are near-sighted can see clearly up close, but things at a distance look blurry.

Hyperopia ("far-sightedness") – People who are far-sighted can see clearly far away, but things up close look blurry.

Astigmatism – People with astigmatism see things as blurry at any distance.

Is there a test for presbyopia and refractive errors? — Yes. Your doctor or nurse can check how well you see by having you read a standard eye chart (figure 2). Depending on how you do reading the chart, they might also suggest that you see an eye doctor for a "comprehensive eye exam." During a comprehensive eye exam, the doctor can look for different causes of vision loss. That's important, because people can have more than one thing wrong with their eyes.

Should I see a doctor? — Yes. If your vision is blurry or you have trouble seeing things up close or far away, you should see a doctor.

How are presbyopia and refractive errors treated? — Presbyopia and refractive errors can usually be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. In some cases, people do well with glasses sold at the drug store without a prescription. Keep in mind that the needs of your eyes can change as you get older. You might need to change prescriptions every so often.

Some people with refractive errors can have a form of surgery that is done with a laser, called "LASIK." During this surgery, the doctor uses the laser to reshape the cornea.

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Patient education: Age-related vision loss (The Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 03, 2022.
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