As an eye care practitioner I’m sometimes asked by family and friends about eye problems they are having. Many of them are between 35 and 50 years of age and have asked me why their near eye sight is becoming blurry when they have good distance eye sight and used to have good near eye sight. Many have never had an eye examination. Some are very worried that something serious is wrong with their eyes. Do you have any tips on how I can deal with their questions?
There are many people who have had good distance and near vision in their younger years. Many people have never had an eye examination as it is often visual problems that prompt an eye examination. Some people don’t visit eye care practices because they are fearful of being prescribed glasses when they don’t need them. Others make do with reasonable everyday vision because the cost of glasses puts them off having an eye examination. Some others are worried that near sight eye problems are a sign of serious eye disease that they would rather not know about.
People who have eye problems which affect sight in earlier years, such as myopia and hyperopia, will be used to having eye examinations and will be quick to attend when they notice near eye sight problems in their middle years.
People find many ways of delaying a visit to an eye care practice when they have near eye sight problems. Making things bigger on an electronic device, making things brighter on an e-reader, getting more light on to what they are trying to see at near, holding things further away, and avoiding near tasks that require good near eye sight. The last one can cause problems with activities of daily living and reduce quality of life. Some will purchase mass produced glasses that are not individually prescribed for their eye sight.
It is up to us as eye care practitioners to educate people that near eye sight problems (presbyopia) come to almost all in middle years. We can do this by explaining presbyopia to our friends and family. We can discuss presbyopia in our paper-based and social media-based marketing and we can provide our own patients with information.
We can explain that with age the natural lens inside the eye starts to stiffen and that this causes near eye sight problems. It is a natural phenomenon that comes in the middle years. It won’t go away and will gradually get worse as the lens becomes stiffer with time.
We should try hard to help people in our communities come forward for an eye examination when they first notice near eye sight problems in their middle years. We can provide information, allay any fears, provide bespoke prescription glasses and get them used to attending for eye examinations. This will help us detect other eye conditions which come with older age such as cataract, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration much earlier.
We can help people cope with activities of daily living and we can help improve the quality of life.