First off, what is presbyopia? Presbyopia is the gradual worsening of an individual’s ability to see and focus on things that are close-up. Most people who suffer from presbyopia begin to experience the change in their early 40s. The cause behind the worsening of the close-up vision is due to the natural thickening and hardening of the eye’s lens. Symptoms that individuals start to notice are difficulty reading, using the computer or other tasks that require close-up focus, a need to hold reading material at arm’s length, or frequent headaches or eye strain while performing close-up tasks.
Many individuals take a nonsurgical approach for presbyopia treatment such as magnifying reading glasses (like the kind from drugstores), better quality prescription glasses, bi or trifocal lenses for glasses, or monovision contacts (one eye for far, one eye for near) of multifocal contacts (two or three prescriptions per contact lens).
There are few options for surgical treatment of presbyopia, however, two are not available in the United States at the time but seem to be on the horizon for being future options. The first option is a variation of LASIK surgery called monovision LASIK, which corrects one eye for use of distance vision and leaves the other eye for close-up work. Adjusting to monovision may be difficult for some patients and depth perception may be affected. The last available option in the U.S. is refractive lens exchange, which is very similar to the process of cataract surgery. The surgeon removes the eye’s natural lens and replaces it with an artificial one allowing for natural vision to be restored.
The two procedures are called KAMRA inlay and multifocal LASIK. The KAMRA inlay is a procedure in which a very small contact lens is implanted in each other that allows for clear and comfortable vision. KAMRA was just approved by the FDA last year and has been very successful so far, for more information on this procedure you can read Dr. Stetson discuss KAMRA in a recent press release. Multifocal LASIK, or presbyLASIK is another surgical treatment option available. This procedure is similar to normal LASIK surgery, but the laser is used to create 3 different regions of vision in each eye; near, intermediate, and far vision.