Surgery to Replace Reading Glasses: Does it Exist?

Dr. Jonathan Woolfson
Surgery to Replace Reading Glasses: Does it Exist?

Around the age of 40, people begin to experience blurred vision when reading or looking at a computer screen. No longer can you adjust focus and see things close up. This only gets worse as you get older, until you are 60 and have no ability to focus. But is it possible to fix near vision and replace reading glasses with surgery or other options?

You probably know about LASIK surgery and its ability to correct eyesight. But what you may not realize is that most patients who move forward with this treatment are nearsighted, meaning they have poor vision far away and can see reasonably well up close.

When we, at our Southeastern laser correction centers, tell people 40 or over that even if they have LASIK surgery, they will still require reading glasses when looking at a computer screen or anything closer, he or she is often surprised and disappointed.

But guess what? There actually are ways to address near vision, with or without LASIK.

Monovision contact lenses

Monovision contact lenses are one option for correcting near vision, or presbyopia. When people wear these lenses, one contact lens gives them far vision, and the other lens gives them near vision for reading.

Monovision LASIK

Most corrections that can be done with contact lenses can also be done with LASIK. This is true for monovision.

When patients come to us at Woolfson Eye Institute, and they have not had monovision lenses, we typically connect them with a trusted eye doctor in the community who can, at least temporarily, fit them with monovision contact lenses.

This way patients can make sure they are satisfied with one eye seeing near and one eye seeing far. They can try reading, driving, and hiking to see if this type of vision works for them.

We take this step to better serve our patients because monovision is not for everyone. People who are avid tennis players or golfers most likely won’t be candidates for monovision. Neither will anyone who wants their depth perception to be as good as possible.

But don’t worry. Other options exist for people who don’t want monovision.

Do eye exercises or surgery to repair adjustable focus work?

In a perfect world, we would be able to show our patients some eye exercises, and they would be able to get their near vision back for reading. But, unfortunately, this isn’t possible.

Research has shown that eye exercises cannot alter the eye’s basic anatomy or eliminate near vision problems. Nobody escapes presbyopia.

Surgery to repair the focusing system that breaks down has not been adequately successful to achieve FDA approval. There have been several unsuccessful attempts to use implants or other surgical procedures to restore adjustable focus for people over 40.

So, what can improve vision for reading?

Intraocular lenses or accommodating intraocular lenses

People with cataracts can choose to have a lens with built-in distance and near power. Bifocal Multifocal Intraocular lenses are similar to bifocal or multifocal contact lenses, both of which do a good job of delivering both near and distance vision.

But what if you don’t have a cataract? We actually don’t have to wait until a patient has a cataract. These lenses can be used as an elective procedure.

Another similar technology is accommodating intraocular lenses. These lenses provide a small degree of adjustable focus, which sometimes can provide near vision and reading ability comparable to what people had when they were in their 30s or 40s.

However, these lenses are not always ideal for delivering excellent near vision, so they tend to be used less frequently than multifocals and monovision.

Corneal inlays

Recently, a procedure — comparable to LASIK — called corneal inlays has been in development. Imagine a flap or pocket being made in the cornea and a lens inserted to provide near vision. This technology is under development and not yet FDA approved, although there is some optimism that one of these corneal implants will be available soon.

One type of corneal inlay is called the KAMRA. These inlays take advantage of an optical principle called the pinhole effect. By looking through a small aperture, essentially an artificial small pupil, near and distance objects are both in better focus. Squinting improves your vision via the exact same property. This type of inlay, we hope, will be available in the next few months, and we expect to offer it at our laser correction center.

Imagine turning back the clock for your eyes to when you were 40 and didn’t have to wear reading glasses. This could be a reality very soon.

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Woolfson Eye Institute can help you see better and even replace your reading glasses

At Woolfson Eye Institute, with offices in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, we want to give you the vision you deserve. That’s why we offer monovision and intraocular lenses and are seeking newer treatments for people who want to read again without glasses.

If you have questions or want to visit one of our centers, click here to find a location near you and to contact us about setting up an appointment.

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