It is inevitable that as we age into our 40s, 50s, and 60s our arms will get shorter, or at least that is what some of you have told me. What is actually happening is you are developing Presbyopia. Presbyopia is when the focusing muscles in your eyes start losing their flexibility. These tiny muscles help your eyes focus on objects that are close to you. They also relax when you need to see things far away. Over time, these muscles begin to stretch out just like a rubber band does with heavy use over time. Eventually, you will notice that you are pulling objects further and further away from you, thus making it seem like your arms are getting shorter.
One solution for this is buying over-the-counter reading glasses (or getting longer arms). These sorts of glasses work well for some people but not everyone. If you are interested in learning more about fixing your vision without reading glasses then you are in the right place.
I have listed several options below that I commonly prescribe in my clinic.
Multifocal Contact lenses. Multifocal contacts are designed to help you see up close and far away. They are shaped sort of like a bullseye, one ring helps you see up close, one ring helps you see far away, etc. When you put them on, your brain figures out which ring is in focus at which distance, and you can see. Most people that wear multifocal can see very well in good lighting conditions but tend to have some difficulty reading small print-like menus when they are in dim lighting situations. Some multifocal wearers also complain that their distance vision at night is not as good. Otherwise, during the day, in good lighting conditions, you should be able to see most things you need to see. If you are a perfectionist, have a lot of astigmatisms, or want to be able to tie the fishing line in the dark, multifocal may not be for you. Otherwise, multifocal works great for most people.
Monovision Contact Lenses. Monovision contacts work by correcting one eye to see in the distance and correcting the other eye to see up close. This is what eye doctors used before we had multifocal contacts, and it still works pretty well for many people. It takes a couple of weeks to get used to, because your depth perception will be off a bit, but after getting used to it, most monovision wearers are happy. We mostly use monovision for people that have astigmatism, or patients that aren’t happy with multifocal.
Progressive Glasses. Progressive glasses are designed to help you see at any and all distances. They work by progressively getting stronger as you move down in the lens. So, the top part of the lens helps you see far away, the middle part helps you see intermediate distances like your computer screen, and the lower part helps you see things up close like your phone. These lenses give you the most range, flexibility, and clarity of all the lens options. It does take a bit of time to adapt to because I tell people wearing a progressive is like learning how to ride a bike without training wheels. Once people get used to them, they are usually very happy with their vision. The only limitation with progressives is a smaller area of peripheral vision. To see objects in your peripheral vision it tends to work better to turn your head to see things. For instance, when driving a car it works best to turn your head to check your blind spot as opposed to cutting your eyes to the side.
Bifocals and Trifocals. Bifocals are the traditional glasses that you see with a line across the bottom for reading. Trifocals have two lines, one at the bottom for reading, and one at the top for intermediate distances. These work well for people that have trouble adapting to progressives, or people who don’t do a lot of multi-tasking. Bifocals only have two focal points, and trifocals only have three focal points. So, with bifocals out of the top, you can only see things very far away and out of the bottom you can only see things that are close to you, so if you want to see something in your intermediate vision you will have to either get closer to it or further away from it. Some people don’t like the look of having a line in their lenses, but most of the time it’s hard to tell that someone is wearing them until you get fairly close.
So there you have it. Most people do very well using one or a combination of the options I discussed. If you still have questions about any of them feel free to email me at email@example.com
Thank you for reading!