Presbyopia can be corrected and managed with the development of specialty lenses
The gradual loss of your eye’s ability to focus on nearby objects is called presbyopia. It is an age-related eye condition. This is because the lens has no more elasticity and cannot change shape as it used to, resulting in the inability to bend light properly to focus it on the retina.
Optometrist Chan May May said: “Two to three years ago, the average presbyopia onset age was 45 years and above. But now, the onset age is getting lower, especially during the pandemic, becoming noticeable in the mid-thirties.”
Based on research, the progression will slow down around age 60 to 65. While presbyopia does not lead to blindness, we are more susceptible to other eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataract.
Irreversible, but can be corrected
Presbyopia is a natural part of ageing, and it is irreversible. The signs for presbyopia include tiredness, headache and eye twitching.
“Nobody can run away from it. As you get older, you will get it,” said Chan, who is the founder of Chan May May Optometry Sdn Bhd.
But fret not, as presbyopia can be corrected with the development of specialist lenses for the management of presbyopia.
“If we have presbyopia, we can correct it by using spectacles or glasses. Now, we can correct it by using contact lenses as well.”
She shared that contact lenses for presbyopia were introduced around six years ago.
“Initially, it was not popular, but now after recommendations and advertisements, people are more aware that contact lenses can be used to correct presbyopia.
“I have a patient who was reluctant to wear glasses as she had skin sensitivity and sinus problems every time she wore them.
“But after introducing her to contact lenses, she has better vision and satisfaction. As a result, she comes back regularly for her prescribed contact lenses.”
How do contact lenses for presbyopia work?
Both multifocal and bifocal contact lenses can correct presbyopia. According to Chan, the lens corrects the eye condition by providing vision correction for distance and near vision.
Bifocal contact lenses have two different focal points for long and near distances.
Multifocal contact lenses have three different focal points for long, intermediate and near distances.
“Multifocal contact lenses can be obtained from a qualified optometrist.”
“We need to use specific equipment to measure the pupil size, cornea curvature and to determine which is the dominant eye.
“Only after these examinations we can prescribe the correct and suitable contact lenses to the patient or customer.”
She shared that the Acuvue Moist Multifocal contact lenses were good because they are designed based on the patient’s pupil size and age to ensure better vision.
25 years providing vision care
Coming from a family of optometrists, Chan was initially attached to her father’s optometry practice.
Over time, she had different ideas of running and making changes to the practice.
“So, I choose to set up my own practice. I invested and upgraded my services with new innovations and equipment.”
In pursuit of her own vision and ideas of upgrading the eye care service, she then opened her own optometry practice, Chan May May Sdn Bhd, in Pulau Tikus, Penang.
Later, she opened another practice at Bayan Lepas named Zeiss Vision Center. She has six qualified optometrists rotating between the two branches.
“I have a different approach with running my practice, focusing more investment on the equipment.”
Apart from prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, her practices provide comprehensive eye examination services. Such services are intraocular pressure test, cornea screening, retina photography (3DOCT Scan) to detect macular degeneration, keratoconus/Ortho-K lenses, and vision therapy. They are all aided by sophisticated equipment.
Chan found it worthwhile to invest in eye care equipment because it helped optometrists better understand the patients’ vision problems and the treatment or prescription needed.
She continued: “The equipment is getting more sophisticated. They can provide more accurate results and give a more comfortable and satisfying examination process. For example, all my eye examination equipment can be used to diagnose without the need for eye drops and eye dilation.
“It is also important to ask the patient’s history, occupation and hobbies so that we can prescribe according to their lifestyle expectation and needs.”
With 25 years of experience, Chan stressed it was essential to conduct the preliminary tests. This ensured the best and most suitable corrective lenses were prescribed to patients and helped the optometrist detect eye diseases more seamlessly.
She is also a certified vision behavioural optometrist. This makes her well-equipped to help kids with reading difficulties, strabismus (cross-eyed) patients and patients suffering from brain injuries such as sixth nerve palsy and concussion.
Adapting to the new normal
According to Chan, specialty lenses such as multifocal contact lenses, astigmatism lenses, and Ortho-K lenses are still in demand during the pandemic and lockdown.
“Customers are not able to purchase specialty lenses online because it needs to follow the prescribed figures.”
Chan was grateful optometry services were allowed to open their business during the current lockdown.
“We are an essential service. People need our services to either get their glasses repaired or get the supply of contact lenses.
“Otherwise, how can you drive, study or go about your daily activities without spectacles or contact lenses.”
Her practices follow the social distancing SOPs strictly, and only those using the MySejahtera app are allowed into the premises. — The Health