Terrance Heath

I Can't Believe My Eyes

Filed By Terrance Heath | June 06, 2010 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living
Tags: losing eyesight, presbyopia, reading glasses

It’s official. I’m getting older. It started, actually, a year ago. I went to my annual eye exam, and the doctor told me that I was just starting to show a touch of presbyopia.

Presbyopia usually occurs beginning at around age 40, when people experience blurred near vision when reading, sewing or working at the computer.

You can’t escape presbyopia, even if you’ve never had a vision problem before. Even people who are nearsighted will notice that their near vision blurs when they wear their usual eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct distance vision.

Presbyopia is widespread in the United States. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, over 135 million Americans were age 40 and older in 2008, and the country is growing older: The median age reached 36.8 in 2008, up 1.5 years since 2000. This growing number of older citizens generates a huge demand for eyewear, contact lenses and surgery that can help presbyopes deal with their failing near vision.

Apparently, the knees are not the first to go. Not always.

I mostly brushed it off, but he suggested I buy a pair of reading glasses. I bought the reading glasses, but they spent most of the past year sitting in a desk drawer. Then a couple of months ago, I started having to hold some things farther away in order to read them, especially small print. I first noticed it while trying to read some small print on my iPhone.

So, I’ve had to one again stop ignoring the march of time across my eyeballs, and the reading glasses have come out of the drawer. But the last thing I need is another pair of glasses to keep up with. So, I have an appointment for an eye exam today.

I’m hoping I can get some multifocal lenses.

Bifocal contact lenses are designed to provide good vision to people who have a condition called presbyopia.

The main sign that you’re developing presbyopia is that you need to hold menus, newspapers and other reading material farther from your eyes in order to see it clearly.

Bifocal contact lenses come in both soft materials and rigid gas permeable (GP) materials. Some can be worn on a disposable basis. That means you have the convenience of throwing the lenses out at specified intervals (even daily, in some cases) and replacing them with fresh, new lenses.

One lens manufacturer offers a soft multifocal contact lens made of silicone hydrogel material. This lens is FDA-approved for up to 30 days of continuous wear.

Bifocal contacts lenses have two prescriptions in the same lens. Multifocal contact lenses have a range of powers (similar to progressive spectacle lenses) in each lens. "Multifocal" is also used as a catch-all term for all contact lenses with more than one power, including bifocals.

And maybe even some new glasses. Given the amount of reading I do, plus the amount of time I spend reading/writing/editing text on various screens, it’s pretty much a necessity.

Ah, aging. Oh well, it beats the alternative. (There’s only one way I know of to avoid aging, after all.)

Next to go? Probably the knees...

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Tab Hunter’s Ghost | June 6, 2010 5:45 PM

Ah, Terrance, welcome to the club! I wish you well with your examination. When I hit 40 I went from being a far-sighted “normal” visioned person to needing trifocals. As a teacher, reading is mandatory and I couldn’t survive without my glasses.

The knees, hips, shoulders joints went next. But have no fear -- there are compensation to aging. I enjoy life a whole lot more, despite being invisible in most gay male gatherings due to very greying hair, LOL. Few things anger me or get me worked up any more; I’m much more pragmatic and settled in life.

And sex is way better now, with a lifetime of experience there are no anxieties or surprises. Love between family, friends, and myself ages like a fine wine. Life is good.

May yours be so as well!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 7, 2010 3:34 AM


Today you have become a man. A Buddhist man, but a man nonetheless. Consider having your eyes laser treated. One for near and one for far and your mind marries the two images together. You, at 40, are the perrrfect age to get it done.

I can read the fine print on a menu in a darkened restaurant perfectly since having this done 15 years ago and wore coke bottle glasses from the age of 8. It is a miracle every day to be able to open my eyes and see.

Contact lenses are soo 2000! :)

I "see" that I am not the only one who's eyesight has begun to diminish with age!!! I had perfect vision right up to the 42 year mark....now at 48 I am totally lost without my multi-focal buddies!!! I find that glasses provide much more quality of vision, vs contacts...but in vanity I do wear contacts when the mood strikes! Great article!!! Thanks for sharing your "in-sight" with us!

I've worn glasses since 3rd grade. I desperately want the laser eye surgery but I'm afraid to do it. Hell, I can barely put eyedrops in my eyes and have never been able to really do contacts because of it so the idea of forcing your eyelid open and lasering the eyeball terrifies me.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 8, 2010 6:09 AM

Inspect the procedure. It has an excellent success rate. It is the best best thing I ever did for myself and when I did it it was twice the present price. It pays for itself in replacement eyeglasses! Just had my vision tested 20/20 in the distance eye and 20/28 in the reading eye

gregorybrown | June 7, 2010 11:23 AM

I've always had "dry eyes" and a fear of getting anything near my eyes, so eyeglasses rather than contacts have been my fate since age 12. I'm lucky there was no corresponding gag-reflex problem....but that's another matter. I thought presbyopia was a problem peculiar to dour evangelical Scots with a loathing for bishops. Well, you'll survive and prosper. Changes in eyesight are less alarming than, say, the apparent increase in earlobe size or the migration of hair from ankles to back.

Wendell Cochran | June 7, 2010 3:16 PM

When I bought my first computer I realized there was a huge prolem reading the screen without having eye strain, or by leaning forward or away from the screen to read clearly. Optomologist recommended tri-focals glasses. They work great but took some time to get use to -- gives me a mid-range focus I didn't have with bi-focals alone. They also let me read fine print on perscription bottles, a necessity as we grow older.

Regan DuCasse | June 8, 2010 3:03 PM

Well, this is interesting. I was near sighted as a child, and started wearing soft lenses in my 20's. With the advent of sleep in lenses, it was like having virtual 20/20.

Then, I got older...and presbyopia and dry eye started setting in.
I opted for the monocular LASIK, which is painless, but the sound of the laser is kind of freak inducing. Recovery IS very fast and it was the best money I ever invested.

There are a lot of excellent OTC dry eye products out there.
So is Lutein, a nutritional supplement that protects the eyes which can later be susceptible to glaucoma and MD.

There is much that can be done that is curative, or preventive.
We're a lucky generation. The previous one had none of the options we do.
Being squeamish about touching the eye is kind of funny.
What do you do when you get a lash or a bit of sand in it?

Aahhh presbyopia, the curse for our wisdom, us, old fellows!

I started with +2 reading glasses, but now I need +3 and it starts to scare me! I recommend to see directly the optician, get your prescription and buy a pair in a good store. If you want to buy them online, buy varionet (www.varionetglasses.com), I am using their glasses and they are better quality than the ones I had in the past.



Wow! It's heartening to know I'm not alone. (Actually, it hit the hubby about a year or so ago. He's three years older than me, but my eyesight is far worse than his.)

By way of update: I went to the optometrist, got examined, got a prescription for multi-focal lenses, and glasses.

I've tested two brands of contact lenses and have to make a follow-up appointment to let the doc know which worked best and place an order. The lenses have worked out well. It took a few days to really adjust, but I did and they make a huge difference.

The glasses are mostly for using to read, etc., after I take the contacts out at night.

I'm bemused by the number of comments on this post. I guess I'm not the only on aging. ;-)