Why Reading Gets Harder with Age

Dec 1, 2021

3 min read

Why Reading Gets Harder with Age

As we age, vision issues are a common problem, and typically have to do with reading smaller print from a typical distance. As your local optician offering designer frames, and prescription sunglasses, Suburban Opticians is here to help with all your vision needs.

If you find yourself having to hold a dinner menu, medication, or a good book further away to read it, you are likely experiencing presbyopia, which is the medical term describing the increased difficulty with near vision as people age. It is caused by the loss of elasticity in the lens of the eye and starts to be an issue at around the age of 45. Fun fact, “presbyopia” actually comes from the Greek word that means “old eye.”

Cause of difficulties when reading

Presbyopia impacts the lens of the eye, which is located behind your iris.

To focus on the light that enters the eye, it changes shape. When we are young, the flexibility of the lens allows the eye to quickly adjust and focus on objects that are both near and far. But as we age, the lens gradually thickens and becomes less flexible. This combination means it can’t easily change shape.

There is no way to avoid presbyopia, but it can be treated with glasses, contacts, or even surgery.


Your best defense is to make sure you are seeing your ophthalmologist or optometrist for routine eye exams at least every two years. This is especially important if you are over the age of 40.

Glasses can help with reading difficulties

As long as presbyopia is your only problem, you will likely need reading glasses.

These can be purchased over the counter, but to determine the specific power you need, we recommend presbyopia an eye exam. This helps rule out other vision issues and helps avoid having to deal with too much trial and error.

Remember, presbyopia is caused because the lens of the eye is no longer flexible. Reading glasses help because they bend the light before it enters your eye.

If you have other eye issues that require you to wear glasses you will likely transition to wearing bifocals, trifocals, or progressive lenses.

Like their names suggest Bifocals help correct problems seeing both near and far objects, and Trifocals have three areas in the lens that help to issues seeing objects that are close, far, and at mid-range.

Progressive lenses work much like bifocals and trifocals, but rather than have distinct areas in the lens to correct vision, the refraction changes gradually.


If you have presbyopia but prefer to wear contacts you’re still in luck. Bifocal contact lenses, which work similarly to bifocal lenses, and can help correct both near- and farsightedness. Multifocal contacts help correct near, mid-range, and far vision problems.

Some contact wearers can also try monovision lenses, where you wear a near vision contact lens in one eye and a distance vision lens in the other.


There are many surgery options such as refractive surgery like Lasik, or Corneal inlays. Each is a big consideration that is best made after a conversation with your eye doctor.

Presbyopia is simply part of the aging process but can be treated when properly monitored. Whether you think you have the beginning signs or are having a great deal of difficulty, give us a call to schedule your next eye exam. We can help get you back to reading the fine print.

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