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There comes the time in life when the ability to read at a close distance becomes difficult due to natural changes within the eye. This isn’t an illness or disease, it’s a natural deterioration of your close vision know as presbyopia.

You may notice the changes from around the age of 40, when the lens which allows your eye to focus loses much of its flexibility and your reading distance increases to about 25cm (compared to just 10cm at the age of 20). Around the age of 50, this increases further to around 50cm and your eyes will start to show signs of tiredness and fatigue when reading without spectacles.


The first signs you’ll notice are needing good lighting to read in the evening or having difficulty with close-up tasks like threading a needle. Most people report that their arms are no longer long enough to read the newspaper! At this point it becomes necessary to visit an optician to help control your near vision.

There are many options for presbyopia correction. Reading glasses can compensate for vision up to 40cm, but as soon as you lift your eyes (for example to look at a computer screen) your vision becomes blurred again. You may find you are always changing spectacles. Bifocal lenses are divided into two parts, the lower part gives you near vision whilst the top part gives you distance vision. However, they do not provide clear vision for mid-distance. The most popular lens for those with presbyopia is a progressive lens, which gives comfortable vision from near to far helping you to rediscover the ease of natural vision at all distances.

If you think your close vision may be affected, your first point of call should be a visit to your optician for a full sight test. Once you have an up to date optical prescription you optician will be able to talk you through the various lens options in more detail, or even discuss contact lens options if you prefer not to wear glasses.

For more information on presbyopia, visit where you can download a fact sheet from The Eyecare Trust.

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