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Home Eye Tests Glasses Eyesight Problems Eye Diseases Contact Lenses FAQs



Presbyopia is the scientific term for reading difficulties at near due to age. Focus problems and blurred reading vision usually occurs after age 40 onwards. Thankfully glasses can help. It's a natural age condition and so not an eye disease.

The natural lens inside the eye alters shape in order to focus on near objects like books. This shape change allows eyes to have a reserve power. However this gradually reduces with age because the lens hardens and thickens.

Most people notice reading blur after age 40 and can come as a shock and can be seen as a sign of age. However in reality there has been a gradual loss from adolescent and continues to about 65 years old when the reserve power of lens focus is lost.

This happens naturally to everybody

Symptoms of ageing reading problems

Arms are not long enough ! Sometimes presbyopia is referred to as short arm syndrome - as it is easier to focus if hold book further away.   

Complaint of eye strain, headaches, difficulty reading in dim light  and blurry vision are common symptoms of reading age problems. ( other eye conditions can have similar symptoms)

Treatment of reading age.

Presbyopia can be corrected with spectacles or contact lenses. Corrective laser treatment and other ocular operations are also possible.

On an optician’s prescription form - it is usually noted as the Reading Add that is combined onto the distance prescription.

Optician may advise two prescriptions - one for distance and one for reading. Theses may be combined into one pair of glasses like a bifocal or varifocal. Even if you don’t need distance glasses, varifocals or bifocals may help with work.


Will reading glasses make my eyes worse  ?

Glasses do not make eyes worse.  Sometimes it can appear to do that when a person goes back to the optician for another eye test in two years, and they may need a stronger prescription to focus now.

However it is due to age of the lens and its focus declines gradually to about 65 years of age. New prescriptions are usually required over this period.

Usually a prescription for near can be worked out from the  age. This will be tweaked according to the length of close working area - which will depend on hobbies, work and patients personal preference

Is there a cure for reading age ?

The ability to focus declines naturally due to age  and there is no scientific valid cure to stop this.

Glasses wont stop the decline of reading age but it will help to ease the symptoms and see clearer to do the visual task required.

Glasses wont make your eyes worse and so its better to have comfort and not struggle. Glasses may reduce accidents or mistakes.

Difference between Long sighted, ( hyperopia ) and presbyopia

A long sighted person vision is worst for near - but it's not quite the same as presbyopia.

The long sight can occur at any age and if it's a low amount, a person can focus far distance using the eyes own lens reserve power

However if now try to focus at near - more power is required and the longsighted eye may not be able to cope because it is already using the reserve power to focus in distance.

So if under age 40, the optician can give a distance prescription which gives a boost to the longsighted eye and can use the distance glasses for reading.

If over 40, the reserve power is reduced because of presbyopia ( harder to focus ) and so may need a reading add on top of the distance prescription.

Short sighted and presbyopia

A short sighted person may be able to read by taking off their distance glasses or may need a reading add onto the distance prescription.