Younger people at risk of losing close-up vision due to gadget use - Doctor

Presbyopia affecting people in their 30s now

07 Apr 2024 07:00am
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo credit: designer491/Getty Images
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo credit: designer491/Getty Images

KUALA LUMPUR - Presbyopia is often experienced by individuals who are 40 years old and above but now the problem also affects younger people when they realise that their eyes lose the ability to focus on objects at close range.

KPJ Eye Specialist Centre ophthalmologist Dr Helen Tan Chen Chen said according to research, the symptom known as premature presbyopia can now be experienced by 10 to 12 per cent of people in their 30’s and usually starts at the age of 36.

She said generally, presbyopia occurs naturally as a result of the aging process when the lens of the eye begins to harden and become less flexible, causing near vision to become blurred.

As for premature presbyopia, Dr Helen explained that it can occur as a result of various factors including the frequent use of gadgets and jobs that require near vision such as jewellers, watchmakers and electricians.

"The regular use of gadgets causes the use of the eyes to see close up, especially when looking at the gadget for too long, so people will notice the nearsightedness earlier. The same goes for people whose work requires them to see small objects up close," she told Bernama.

Besides, Dr Helen said hyperopia, which is existing untreated nearsightedness, health problems such as diabetes and anemia, excessive exposure to UV rays (overexposure) as well as smoking and alcohol addiction are also causes of premature presbyopia.

"UV rays can cause the lens of the eye to become inflexible, while diabetes and anemia can indeed cause vision problems," she said.

Dr Helen, however, rejects the notion that blue light from mobile phone screens, televisions and laptops contributes to the symptoms of nearsightedness.

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She said exposure to blue light can however cause difficulty sleeping because it blocks the secretion of melatonin which is the hormone that regulates sleep time.

To prevent premature presbyopia, Dr Helen advises people to rest their eyes regularly when using gadgets, reading or working for long periods of time.

"Rest your eyes for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes by looking at distant objects. Do not rest your eyes for two or three hours because this can increase the risk of nearsightedness," she said.

She said healthy eating is also important to control diabetes and anemia which is one of the causes of premature presbyopia, in addition to eating foods high in antioxidants such as carrots, pumpkins, green vegetables such as kale and broccoli and fruits such as blueberries and strawberries.

To avoid the symptoms of tired eyes due to presbyopia, Dr Helen said that in addition to the use of glasses and contact lenses, those who suffer from the problem can also try 'presbyond lasik' surgical treatment.

"This surgery is carried out by making a full correction on the dominant eye to see distant objects on one eye and on the other side we will leave a little power in 150 to help see in the near distance. This is called monovision.

"Presbyond lasik is quite popular now where this technology uses a combination of monovision method and spherical aberration (spherical aberration) on the cornea to extend the focus of vision to be able to see far and near," he said.

Dr Helen also advises people to have an eye examination if they experience symptoms such as eye strain, difficulty seeing in dim light and reading small print. - BERNAMA