Treating Presbyopia with Laser Eye Surgery

Presbyopia begins to rear its ugly head when we reach our 40s—could laser eye surgery be a viable option for treating this common condition?

Presbyopia is the medical term used to describe age-related farsightedness. The condition is inevitable and typically occurs at around the age of 40. Presbyopia happens when the structure of the crystalline lenses in the eye lose elasticity and become stiff, making it difficult for the muscles to change focus from distant to near vision. Symptoms of presbyopia include eye strain, headaches and blurred vision when trying to focus on objects nearby. 

People with presbyopia can correct their vision with reading glasses. Those who would like a more permanent solution, however, may opt for laser eye surgery instead.

Laser eye surgery works by using an excimer laser to reshape the cornea and correct visual impairment. The most common type of corrective laser surgery for presbyopia is monovision laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) laser surgery. With monovision LASIK, your surgeon will correct the vision in one eye for clearer distance vision while leaving the other eye slightly near-sighted. The outcome of monovision LASIK surgery is that patients will be able to focus more easily on near and far objects simultaneously. While monovision LASIK is an effective treatment for presbyopia, patients opting for this course of action may not experience perfect distance vision. The results of monovision laser surgery can also be replicated by wearing custom contact lenses. Speak with your ophthalmologist to decide which solution is best for your needs.

Risks of Laser Eye Surgery

Elective laser eye surgery is largely considered to be a safe routine procedure with a high success rate. While complications occur in less than five percent of cases, there are some risks to be aware of: 

Vision may be over or under-corrected. The laser treatment may remove too much or too little tissue in the eye which can impede optimal results. 

Development of chronic dry and red eyes. LASIK surgery may cause temporary dryness as it decreases lubrication in the tear duct. Your surgeon may suggest that you use eye drops during this time.

Infection. Infection and inflammation are possible side effects—albeit rare—of monovision LASIK. It is therefore important to use medical eye drops as directed by your surgeon while your eyes heal. 

Sight disturbance. Patients may experience discomfort, sensitivity to light, glares in low-light environments and blurred vision soon after surgery. These side effects are common and should resolve within three to six months. 

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