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Presbyopia? Who knew?

October 21, 2009

My husband told me when I turned 40 my eyesight would start to fail. I scoffed at his callous remark, reminding him that I’ve passed every eye exam over the past 20 years with flying colors. 20/20 baby. Nothing more, nothing less. I had perfect vision.

Hyperopia, or farsightedness, occurs when the light rays that enter the eye do not focus directly on the retina, but in fact, they focus behind it. This is caused when the eyeball is shorter than it should be. People can be affected by hyperopia at any age.

Presbyopia, on the other hand, also causes one to have difficulty reading close up, but it is age-related, and affects people over 40. It is caused by the hardening of the lens inside the eye. The result is the same as hyperopia: poor near vision.

Hyperopia is not inevitable, and it can be treated surgically. Presbyopia is inevitable.

My 40th birthday came and went. 41. 42. Eye exam: perfecto. My husband’s theory was obviously inaccurate. I had super-woman eyesight. I am an anomaly. I was convinced that my youthful eyesight — my 20/20 vision — would not let me down.

My 43rd birthday. Nothing. Even in the dimmest of lamplights, my ability to read a book before turning in for the night didn’t suffer. No spectacles required.

Then, as sudden as heart attack, my eyes betrayed me. It’s not even as though there was any warning. I replaced the bulbs in my nightside lamp, bought myself some heavy-duty eyedrops to take care of the obvious strain that was causing my blurred vision, but the hazy pages appeared to me every time I opened a book. And over the course of just a few months, I was shopping for reading glasses. Yes. Me. Reading glasses.

With a knowing smile, my husband helped me select a cute frame and — because he’s so much nicer than I am — refrained from sharing the “I told you so” that I know was hanging out on the tip of his tongue during the months he watched me deny my fate.

The bright side? I still have my own teeth? Hey, it’s something…

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