Refractive disorders, also known as refractive errors, occur when the shape of the eye prevents light from focusing directly on the retina. This typically results in blurred vision, the most common symptom of a refractive disorder.1
Some of the most common types of refractive disorders include: hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism, in which the eye doesn’t focus light evenly on the retina, and presbyopia, an age-related condition in which the eye's lens can no longer change shape enough to allow the eye to focus clearly up close.1
In general, refractive disorders can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery that aims to change the shape of the cornea, allowing light rays to focus precisely on the retina for improved vision.2
Presbyopia is a refractive disorder that makes it difficult for people to see things up close. Presbyopia is a normal part of aging, typically affecting people in their early to mid-40s and older.
Presbyopia occurs when the clear lens inside the eye becomes more rigid. Typically this lens changes shape to focus light onto the retina, allowing you to focus on objects that are both close-up and far away. As people age, this lens becomes more rigid and cannot change shape as easily. This rigidity makes it difficult to see things clearly up close.
Symptoms of Presbyopia include:
- Difficulty focusing on objects up close
- Blurred vision at normal reading distance
- Eye strain
Presbyopia gets worse over time, but typically plateaus after age 65. Presbyopia is not a disease and cannot be prevented, it is simply a natural part of aging. While there is no way to stop or reverse the normal aging process, it can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery. It may also be helpful to consider simple lifestyle changes including holding reading materials farther away, increasing digital font sizes, choosing large-print reading materials, and using brighter lights for close-up activities.
- National Institutes of Health. National Eye Institute. Facts about refractive errors. Available at: https://nei.nih.gov/health/errors/errors. Accessed on January 28, 2019.
- Walline JJ, Lindsley K, Vedula SS, et al. Interventions to slow progression of myopia in children. Cochrane Database Sys Rev 2011. Available at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22161388. Accessed on January 28, 2019.