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Presbyopia is the loss of the eye's ability to change its focus to see objects that are near. It is caused by an age-related process where changes occur within the proteins in the lens, making the lens harder and less elastic with the years. Age-related changes also take place in the muscle fibers surrounding the lens. With less elasticity, the eye has a harder time focusing up close.

It is not a disorder or disease, but rather a natural aging process of the eye.

Presbyopia is often confused with farsightedness, but the two are different. Presbyopia occurs when the eye's lens loses flexibility. Farsightedness occurs as a result of the shape of the eyeball, which causes light rays to bend incorrectly once they have entered the eye.

Eyestrain occurs when reading for long periods. Also blurred vision takes place when transitioning between viewing distances. Proper glasses can prevent tired eyes, headaches and blured vision. If you are having trouble reading fine print, schedule an eye exam.

Presbyopia is caused by a hardening of your lens, which in turn develops with aging. As your lens becomes less flexible, it can no longer change shape, and close-up images appear out of focus.

When people develop presbyopia, at the age of 40, they find they need to hold books, magazines, newspapers, menus and other reading materials at arm's length in order to focus properly. When they perform near work, such as embroidery or handwriting, they may have headaches or eyestrain or feel fatigued.

A basic eye exam can diagnose presbyopia. This will include a test for visual acuity using an eye chart and measurements to determine a prescription for glasses or contact lenses.

Presbyopia is treated with corrective lenses.

Eyeglasses with bifocal or progressive addition lenses (PALs) are the most common correction for presbyopia. Progressive addition lenses are similar to bifocal lenses, but they offer a more gradual visual transition between the two prescriptions, with no visible lines between them.

Reading glasses are another choice. Unlike bifocals and PALs, which most people wear all day, reading glasses are typically worn just during close work.

New surgical options to treat presbyopia are being researched