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Correcting Presbyopia: Glasses

Presbyopia is when your eyes lose the ability to see things up close clearly. It gradually happens over time and is a normal aging process of the eye. When you are younger, the lens in your eye changes shape to focus light directly on the back of your eye (the retina). But as you get older, the lens hardens and can't change its shape as easily.

Glasses can correct presbyopia. They focus the image back onto the retina. This way, you can see an object clearly. There are several kinds of glasses you can choose from.

Optician showing eyeglasses to woman.


Reading glasses may be the only treatment you need if you have no other vision problems. As long as you have had an eye exam and you know the strength of the reading glasses you need, you can purchase them at a pharmacy without a prescription. Your eye care provider can prescribe bifocals, trifocals, or progressive lenses if you are also nearsighted or farsighted, or if you don't want to have to take off your reading glasses to see far away, .

Bifocals correct near and far vision ("bi" means two). A small half-circle in the lower part of the lens magnifies objects that are close. In some cases, the whole lower half of the lens magnifies these objects.

Trifocals correct near, middle, and far vision ("tri" means three). The lower part of the lens has two magnifying powers. One magnifies near objects. The other magnifies objects that are about an arm’s length away.

Progressive lenses change magnifying power from near, to middle, to far vision. They do this slowly using a smooth transition. You don't notice a change from one power to the next. And you don't see any lines on the lenses. But the sides of the lenses will be blurry. That's because each lens promotes three fields of vision.

Online Medical Reviewer: Chris Haupert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Whitney Seltman MD
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2022
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