Sat, May 04, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Tri-Service doctor warns on early signs of presbyopia

By Wu Liang-yi and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A woman uses eye drops in an undated photograph.

Photo: Wu Liang-yi, Taipei Times

An ophthalmologist in Taipei urged people to adopt good eye health habits as people are developing presbyopia at a younger age.

Tri-Service General Hospital ophthalmologist Lu Da-wen (呂大文) cited the case of a 36-year-old software engineer who consulted him because of blurry vision.

Lu said the patient spent more than eight hours on the computer at work every day and continued to use or play games on the phone after work.

An eye examination found that while the patient’s myopia, or nearsightedness, had improved from about minus-5.00 diopters to minus-4.00 diopters, the patient also had a case of early onset of presbyopia, or longsightedness, the doctor said.

The eyes are like camera lenses in that they automatically adjust the crystalline lenses to focus, he said.

When a person looks at a distant object, the ciliary muscle relaxes to make the crystalline lenses thinner, and when a person looks at an object close by, the muscle contracts, he said.

If a person spends extended periods looking at objects nearby, such as a computer or a phone, then their ciliary muscle will constantly be in a state of contraction, leading to muscle fatigue, the doctor said.

The loss of elasticity of the ciliary muscle is the main cause of presbyopia.

Typically, the ciliary muscle gradually loses its elasticity and ability to focus as a person ages, causing near objects to become blurry and more difficult to see, Lu said.

Presbyopia normally occurs after the age of 40, but because of poor eyecare habits, the condition is affecting people at an earlier age, he said.

Lu said he has seen an increasing number of young people with presbyopia, with the average age dropping to 30-plus.

To prevent eye fatigue, people should keep a distance of more than 40cm while reading and about 70cm when using the computer, he said.

The screens of electronic devices should not be brighter than their surroundings, and users should try to reduce screen glare, he said.

The most important thing is to rest the eyes for 10 minutes for every 30 minutes spent looking at close objects, the ophthalmologist said.

Lu said he understands that this might be difficult for many people because of the nature of their jobs.

If their time does not permit them to do so, they could also use eye drops that relax the ciliary muscle, he said.

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