Ask the Eye Docs: How Do I Know if I Need Bifocals?
For more than a decade, the dedicated specialists at Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons have provided patients from all across the southeast with an array of eye care services, ranging from routine vision exams for prescription eyewear and comprehensive medical eye exams to advanced eye disease treatment and LASIK vision correction surgery. In the latest installment of our ongoing blog feature, board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. William Segal and licensed consultative optometrist Dr. Marc Lay will answer some of the most commonly asked questions about eyesight and vision care.
QUESTION: I have worked hard all my life so that I could retire early, and now that I’m in my fifties, one of the things I am looking forward to most is finally getting a chance to kick back and read my favorite detective novels. However, I have noticed lately that I am having difficulty reading printed text. I’ve worn eye glasses to correct my nearsightedness ever since I was a kid, but now they no longer seem to be doing the job. In fact, I find myself having to hold papers further away just to get the words into focus. I am afraid that I might need bifocals, but I am not really sure what that entails. Would you please explain to me what is going on with my eyesight?
ANSWER: Although every patient is different, and we would need to see you for a comprehensive medical eye exam in order to be sure, it seems that what you are experiencing is presbyopia, an eye condition common to middle-aged patients. Nearsightedness, like other refractive errors such as farsightedness and astigmatism, occur because the corneas are slightly abnormal in shape. This is a natural condition that changes very little over the course of a lifetime. Presbyopia, however, is a result of the eyes getting older. Over time, the tiny muscles that control the focus of the eye slowly lose their strength and the lens itself becomes less flexible. As a result, the lens gradually loses the ability to bend far enough to bring close objects into focus. Since less muscle tension is required to focus on objects that are further away, longer distance vision remains unaffected. Since presbyopia and nearsightedness have different causes, it most likely means that you will now require two different lens prescriptions, one for distance vision and one for close up.
Fortunately, bifocals allow you to conveniently incorporate these two separate prescriptions into a single lens, with the bottom half of the lens correcting reading vision while the upper half correcting distance visibility. Progressive lenses are also available as an option for patients who are irritated by the sharp, visible dividing line between the two lens strengths. While they function similarly to bifocals, progressive lenses feature a smooth, gradual transition between the proportion of the lens that corrects reading and the portion that corrects distance focusing, making them virtually indistinguishable from ordinary lenses. In fact, for a limited time at Georgia Eye, our on-site optical center is offering a special deal on progressive lenses. When you buy two pairs of eyeglasses with progressive lenses, you can get a $50 rebate on the first pair and a 50% discount on the second. Some restrictions apply, so come in and talk with our eye care specialists for more details.
Our eyesight is often one of the first things that is affected by advancing age, but there are actually a number of different treatment options available to help you keep your vision sharp. If you have any concerns about your eyesight, please contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons to make an appointment with Dr. William Segal or Dr. Marc Lay to schedule an eye exam. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more information on how to keep your vision clear and healthy.