Presbyopia is a refractive error that makes it hard for middle-aged and older adults to see things up close. It happens because the lens (an inner part of the eye that helps the eye focus) stops focusing light correctly on the retina (a light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye). Presbyopia is a normal part of aging. Everyone gets presbyopia as they get older — usually after age 40.
Many people have another refractive error in addition to presbyopia such as myopia or astigmatism. Symptoms of presbyopia include: trouble seeing things up close, needing to hold reading materials farther away to focus on them, eye strain (when your eyes feel tired or sore) and headache.
Presbyopia gets worse over time, but it usually stops getting worse after age 65. As you age, the lens in your eye gets harder and less flexible, and it stops focusing light correctly on the retina. This makes nearby objects look blurry. Presbyopia is different than farsightedness, or hyperopia — another refractive error that makes it hard to see things up close.
Eye doctors can check for presbyopia as part of a comprehensive eye exam. The exam is simple and painless. In early stages of presbyopia, you can try some simple changes to help you read, like: holding reading materials farther away, choosing large-print books, increasing font size on the computer and using brighter reading lights.
As your presbyopia gets worse, you’ll probably need glasses or contact lenses to help you read. Some people use over-the-counter reading glasses — or your optometrist can prescribe lenses to help you see as clearly as possible.