Why do I need reading glasses (and can laser help)?

Why do I need reading glasses (and can laser help)?

Thu, March 14, 2024

There are many reasons why you might need to wear glasses for reading. The two most common are long-sightedness, or hypermetropia, (which relates to the outer shape of your eye), and presbyopia (which relates to the stiffening of the lens inside your eye). But can laser help? 

Let’s start with long-sightedness (hypermetropia)

Most people inherit long-sightedness from their parents. It’s not something you can generally avoid – that’s just your genetic lottery.

In simple terms, long-sightedness is caused by the shape of your eyeball. If your eyeball is round, you should be able to see 20/20 without the need for glasses. But if you are long-sighted, the distance from the front to the back of your eye is shorter than usual, making the shape of your eyeball slightly more flattened than round.

When this is the case, the light passing through your eye from front to back goes too far – it’s too long – for you to focus properly on things that are up close. Hence the name LONG-sightedness.  

Can laser fix long-sightedness? 

Yes! The great news is that if you are long-sighted (hypermetropic) and your prescription is stable (which means it has stopped changing), laser could be an excellent treatment to get you out of your glasses.

What the laser will do is gently, quickly and painlessly reshape the curvature of your eye at the front (your cornea) to make it more rounded and less flat, enabling you to see with 20/20 vision or even better.

Medownick Laser Clinic pioneered the use of laser eye surgery to fix hypermetropia in the southern hemisphere, and we have been successfully helping long-sighted patients to enjoy life without glasses and contact lenses for 30 years.

Another cause of reading glasses is presbyopia

As our bodies grow older, the muscles and lens inside the eye begin to stiffen and lose flexibility. If you can imagine someone twisting the lens of an old-fashioned camera to focus it, that “twisting to focus” is what the lens inside your eye does naturally. But if the lens of the camera was to stiffen and not turn any more, it would be difficult to focus and create a clear photograph. The same thing happens inside our eyes, and we call this process presbyopia.

When you start having to hold your phone at arm’s length to see it, or use your torch to read the menu in a dimly-lit restaurant, it’s likely that’s presbyopia.

Most people begin to experience presbyopia around the time that they reach their mid-40s, and almost all of us will eventually develop it. Presbyopia is as natural (and unavoidable) as grey hairs or wrinkles. Moreover, presbyopia increases with age (just like greys and wrinkles) and, over time, will also impact distance as well as reading vision.

Whether or not you have ever previously needed glasses, and regardless of whether or not you have previously had laser, presbyopia will still occur. That’s because glasses and laser treat the front of your eye (your cornea) and the shape of your eyeball, whereas presbyopia occurs inside your eye (your lens).

Can laser fix presbyopia?

In some cases, yes, laser can be used to fix presbyopia. On rare occasions at Medownick, we will use our state-of-the-art lasers to correct presbyopia. In these cases, we might use the laser for patients who have one eye that is stronger than the other, and the laser creates a “blended” vision result where one eye is stronger for distance and the other stronger for close-up vision, and the brain blends the two together.

However, laser for presbyopia is not something that we normally recommend. This is because presbyopia is a progressive condition, meaning that even if the laser was to get you out of your glasses today, you might find yourself needing them all over again in two years’ time. Who needs the experience or expense of additional surgeries?

Instead, to give you long term freedom from glasses, we typically recommend a different type of procedure, known as lens replacement. Essentially the same fast, painless, walk-in-walk-out process as modern cataract surgery, a lens replacement removes the old, stiffened lens that is no longer focusing, and replaces it with a new one that is custom-calibrated to your eyes and vision, to give you the best results possible for the long term.

The great thing about a lens replacement is that it not only corrects your presbyopia for the long term, it also guarantees you’ll never develop cataracts down the track.

So, the long and short of it is…

Whether you were born long-sighted, developed it in your teens, or you’ve only just discovered you need readers, there are many ways to get you out of glasses and contacts, and help you enjoy all that life has to offer when you can see naturally.

If you’d like to explore the options for your eyes, we are happy to assess your vision for you free of charge, and outline all the options available to you with absolutely no obligation for you to go ahead with anything. Simply click the “book a free assessment” button on our home-page, according to your age, to make an appointment now.

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Laser eye surgery is an investment in you. It’s why we offer interest-free payment plans over six, 12 or 18 months to suitable candidates.

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