Fergus Falls Optometric Center
"Family Eyecare from the Eyecare Family."
Dr. Mark D. Olmsted and Dr. Christine A. Olmsted
117 E. Lincoln Ave.
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Appointments: 218-736-7555

Near Point Blur in Midlife - 14 Feb 2005

Near Point Blur in Midlife
14 Feb 2005

Near Point Blur in MidlifeSo now you need bifocals… Join the club! There are 81 million Americans who were born in the post-war baby boom between 1946 and 1964. The youngest members of this incredible population burst turn 40 this year. The need for reading help hits us all right around that magic age of 40. This is unfortunate, not only because some people get a bit age-sensitive at that milestone, but especially because I have bruised shins from having to tell some of these folks who just turned 40 that they need… BIFOCALS!!!

Presbyopia, is a condition of the eye where the ocular lens gets less flexible to the point where it can’t change its shape enough to bring near point material into focus. This happens to everyone and is absolutely inevitable. The word “presbyopia” is Greek derived and has the unfortunate translation of “old eyes”. Just what my shin-kicking patients want to hear… (Ladies, please wear sandals to your next appointment…those pumps are killers.) When we are born our lens is super flexible allowing a child to hold reading material very close to the face and still be able to read it. The eyes natural lens continues to become less pliable throughout life in a very predictable way. So predictable, in fact, that a scarily accurate table used by eyecare professionals for over 100 years gives the 40 and up age-based reading power needed for over the patient’s distance Rx.

Symptoms of presbyopia are quite straightforward. The need to hold finer reading material farther out to see it is a classic complaint, especially if you seem to require more light. Having trouble threading a needle or tying a fishing line also suggest near point troubles. One of the first things that personally hit me “right between the eyes” (sorry couldn’t resist), was eyestrain while doing computer work. While this was an issue to me, the last straw was when it hurt my eyes to look at the little grains of rice and pieces of parsley in my rice pilaf at my son’s birthday dinner.

Eyestrain, while reading dumb e-mail jokes from my brother is one thing, but you don’t mess around with Dr. Mark’s enjoyment of food. That’s when I got my multifocal lenses.

My choice of correction was a progressive addition lens (PAL) called Varilux Comfort. This is an excellent “no-line bifocal”, with one of the wider reading zones available. The Comfort lens is able to fit into a much smaller frame than many of the other PALs. It has become our workhorse lens for presbyopia, because so many people want the smaller style frames these days. Varilux is unveiling a cousin to the Comfort lens called Ellipse in mid-April. The Ellipse PAL will be able to fit into even smaller frame designs than Comfort. Of course, bifocals with lines are also still available. There are also contact lens options for near point correction.

Even though presbyopia is a progressive condition and WILL get worse over time, there is nothing to worry about. The symptoms are easily treatable with the proper corrective lenses. The best advice is to get an annual exam to check for changes and to rule out other more serious eye conditions.

Dr. Mark D. Olmsted