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Presbyopia is a condition in which the lens of the eye loses its ability to focus, making it difficult to see objects up close.


The condition is associated with aging and gets worse over time. The focusing power of the eye depends on the elasticity of the lens. This elasticity is gradually lost as people age. The result is a slow decrease in the ability of the eye to focus on nearby objects.

People usually notice the condition around age 45, when they realize that they need to hold reading materials further away in order to focus on them. Presbyopia is a natural part of the aging process and affects everyone.

  • Decreased focusing ability for near objects
  • Eyestrain
  • Headache
Signs and tests

The health care provider will perform a general eye examination, including measurements to determine a prescription for glasses or contact lenses.

Tests may include:

Support Groups

Expectations (prognosis)

Vision can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider or ophthalmologist if you have eye strain or are less able to focus on close objects.


If it is not corrected, vision difficulty that gets worse over time can cause problems with driving, lifestyle, or work.


Presbyopia can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. In some cases, the addition of bifocals to an existing lens prescription is enough. As the ability to focus up close worsens, the prescription needs to be changed.

Around the age of 65, the eyes have usually lost most of the elasticity needed to focus up close. However, it will still be possible to read with the help of the right prescription. Even so, you may find it necessary to hold reading materials further away, and you may need larger print and more light by which to read.

People who do not need glasses for distance vision may only need half glasses or reading glasses.

With the use of contact lenses, some people choose to correct one eye for near and one eye for far vision. This is called "monovision" and eliminates the need for bifocals or reading glasses, but it can affect depth perception. There are also newer contact lenses that can correct for both near and far vision with the same lens.

New surgical procedures can also provide solutions for those who do not want to wear glasses or contacts.


There is no proven prevention for presbyopia.

Review Date: 1/25/2008
Reviewed By: Manju Subramanian, MD, Assistant Professor in Ophthalmology, Vitreoretinal Disease and Surgery, Boston University Eye Associates, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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