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Eye and Vision Care

Sudden Sight Changes

02/01/2011

Question:

I have never had any trouble with my sight until 3 years ago. I noticed from March to April that it became hard to see the digital number on the channel from the couch. When I went to get my license renewed I failed the eye test, so went to eye doctor and got glasses for seeing farther- really helps for seeing TV channels , reading words and seeing down the hallway.

However, I cannot read with them on and only need for seeing across the room. It really is aggravating to have to take them on and off constantly. I did ask eye doctor and he asked if I’d had any blood test lately- I told him I get one every 6 months to renew blood pressure medication.

I am 47 and know that I should be losing sight for up-close soon and I’d hate to try to get glasses (expense) when it should come soon- reading glasses would be cheap. My question I guess is ----is it common to have sight turn this quick? Is there an economical way I could help- would eye surgery be an option? I live in a very rural area!

Answer:

You are experiencing a condition known as presbyopia. This typically occurs in life when individuals reach age 40 to 45. In some instances a person may not notice the blurred vision until slightly later, such as in your case at age 47.

The reason we lose our ability to see images clearly up close is due to a physiologic and mechanical change to the crystalline lens in the eye. The lens continuously accumulates cells around the outermost layer and gradually becomes thicker. This thicker lens is much less flexible than the lens when we are younger. This flexibility is needed to change focus from distance to near.

In your case you have a "built in" bifocal in that things are naturally in focus for you at near but blurry in the distance. However, when you wear the distance glasses it becomes much harder to see up close.

Really the only way to correct this issue without putting-on and taking-off your glasses is to purchase a pair of bifocals or progressive (no-line) lenses. I do realize that it is an expense but surgery will unfortunately not fully solve your problem, and readers will leave you in the position of switching glasses.

As an aside, the reason the doctor asked you about a blood test was in relation to diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can affect the thickness of the lens and therefore alter the prescription. Since it sounds as though you are not diabetic, it is therefore unlikely that this caused the rapid change.

I hope that this helps.

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Response by:

Aaron  Zimmerman, OD, MS Aaron Zimmerman, OD, MS
Clinical Associate Professor of Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University