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Bye Bye Bifocals!

November 10, 2011


I get this all the time, a 40 something patient coming into the office asking about LASIK to correct their bifocal problem.  These patients have gone their whole life without the need for glasses.  Than in the early 40’s reading became difficult, cheaters helped.  As time went by, distance became a blur, and bifocals were prescribed.  These patients are miserable, presbyopia has robbed them of their visual freedom!

According to Wikipedia:

Presbyopia is a condition where the eye exhibits a progressively diminished ability to focus on near objects with age. Presbyopia’s exact mechanisms are not known with certainty; the research evidence most strongly supports a loss of elasticity of the crystalline lens, although changes in the lens’s curvature from continual growth and loss of power of the ciliary muscles (the muscles that bend and straighten the lens) have also been postulated as its cause. Like gray hair and wrinkles, presbyopia is a symptom caused by the natural course of aging. The first signs of presbyopia – eyestrain, difficulty seeing in dim light, problems focusing on small objects and/or fine print – are usually first noticed between the ages of 40 and 50. The ability to focus on near objects declines throughout life…

These patients walk into my office unhappy.  First, I give them the bad news, LASIK will not cure their problem, they are now even more unhappy!  You see, LASIK does not address the problem with focusing.  LASIK will improve distance vision, but reading glasses are still necessary.  Furhtermore, presbyopia is a progressive disorder, LASIK will not even permenantly correct the distance component!

But then I give them the good news, there is a procedure that addresses the problem with presbyopia, Refractive lens exchange (RLE.)  This procedure, which is similar to cataract surgery, replaces the aging lens with an artificial lens (IOL) that is able to focus.  Following RLE, my patients are able to read and drive without glasses, and the really good news, it’s permanent!

Below is a testimonial from Charles.  He was a +9 hyperope who couldn’t see anything without his bifocals.  He came in asking about LASIK and was told about RLE.  Six years after his surgery he is still able to do everything without his glasses!

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