*Disclaimer* This program offers health and nutritional information and is for educational and informational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your eye health, you should always consult with a professional. Do not disregard, avoid, or delay obtaining medical or health-related advice from your health-care professional because of something you may have read on this site.
Can blurry vision be a safety hazard in our daily life?
Vision is the most important of 5 senses; According to studies, about 90% of the information we receive comes from vision(1). In fact, blur vision not only brings about some inconveniences but may cause some safety hazards as well. The effects of not getting blur vision treated include eye strain, headaches, risk of personal safety, and also reduced the quality of our life(2) (3). Blurry vision not only limits the distance you are able to see, but it also increases the reaction time as you are not able to pick up danger and process or act on time(3). This function is especially important for daily tasks like driving.
Also, it impairs the eye’s ability to judge the distance between 2 objects, in other words, the difference between 2D and 3D. Without this ability, it may result in dangers such as missing your footing resulting in falling, or being unable to perform certain occupations safely(4). When we put blurry vision and safety hazards together the first thing that comes to mind would be the elderly around us and there is a condition that will occur in most of them, which is called Presbyopia.
Presbyopia is one of the most common conditions not understood well and it is a condition where the eye ages and fails to focus at near. Usually termed as ‘’old flower eye, Lao Hua’’, or long-armed syndrome in Singapore. Studies have shown 1 out of 3 elderly above the age of 65 falls annually(5), and it has a lot of correlation to blurry vision and it how it results in reduced reaction time to moving objects and lack of ability to judge depth(3).
1. https://www.shiftelearning.com/blog/bid/350326/studies-confirm-the-power-of-visuals-in-elearning. Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
2. https://vision-boutique.com/what-is-presbyopia/. Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
3. Vasudevan, K. Sultani, C. Cossette, B. Burr. Effect of Defocus on Response Time in Different Age Groups: A Pilot Study. 2016 Jul-Sep; 9(3): 196–202.
4. https://www.healthline.com/health/eye-health/depth-perception#daily-life. Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
5. https://www.healthinaging.org/blog/having-poor-vision-can-raise-risk-for-falls-among-older-adults/. Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
How can we tell if we or someone who has Presbyopia?
Our eyes, like other body parts, ages, and your eyes are expected to age as well and it is inevitable! In the past, it was thought that many people will begin to experience presbyopia when they are close to 40 years of age and beyond(2), with statistics from 2015 estimating that more than 1.1 billion people worldwide are affected by this condition(6).
As we live through unprecedented times like this, due to the current pandemic, the way we live and work now has changed as part of the new normal. Everything we do on a daily basis, from the way we work, converse with each other, shop, do our banking, and exercise are now very much dependent on digital devices. These new vision habits take a significant toll on the performance of our eyes and presbyopia is now observed to occur as early as 37 years old age(9).
In Singapore, the median age is 42.2 years old. This will mean that more than 50% of the population should be getting vision correction aids to help with their presbyopia condition. Coupled with the current life expectancy of 83.6 years old(8), presbyopia is set to dominate discussions and decisions for better eye health for a good 40 years of an average individual. Unfortunately, in a recent study in 2019, 92% of a group of studied individuals over 40 years of age do not know what presbyopia was, yet nearly 99% of them are experiencing symptoms(10). The common prominent symptoms include the need to hold reading material further, squinting the eyes while reading, which is common for a normal myopic person, frequent eye fatigue, and also difficulty reading in lower light conditions(10).
Presbyopia usually occurs at about 40 years old due to the loss of flexibility of the lens in the eye to focus at near(2). So normally, these lenses are flexible and bend at will so that you may focus on things close up and far away. When you age, these lenses hardens, and along with the loss of strength of the ciliary muscles that bend it results in these physical changes in your eye and light refracted imprecisely onto the retina, causing blur vision(2). In simple terms, imagine your eyes as a muscle. Moving your eyes to see things in the varying distances, from a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, TV, is like a gym work out for your eyes. It constantly stretches and flexes the muscles for us to see clearly. However, as we age, this muscle losses its strength and hence might not be able to perform as precisely as we used to.
Even if you have never had any eye conditions or health problems, you can’t escape Presbyopia, when though some cases are “milder” or the onset maybe a little later as this dysfunction is biochemical or permanent, there’s nothing we can do about(12). The best way is to visit an optometrist and go for an eye examination regularly at least once a year(11), so that eye health issues can be ruled out earlier and if need to implement the necessary vision corrective solution earlier before it’s too late. And because eye blurriness can be due to many conditions, it is best to not sit on it and consult a professional on this matter. You really would want to rule out, for example, cases such as Cataract, which is yellowing of these lenses or any other vision condition before an optometrist can advise you on the next steps. Some may be signs of conditions that may be vision-threatening such as Glaucoma or Age-related macular disease(11).
But people diagnosed with Presbyopia can easily be corrected by using a pair of Progressive lenses or even multifocal contact lenses for those who prefer to do without glasses(12).
6. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/myopia-presbyopia-treatment-market#:~:text=High%20prevalence%20of%20presbyopia%20is,pool%20belongs%20to%20developing%20countries. Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
7. https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/singapore-population/#:~:text=The%20median%20age%20in%20Singapore%20is%2042.2%20years. Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
8. https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/SGP/singapore/life-expectancy#:~:text=The%20current%20life%20expectancy%20for,a%200.26%25%20increase%20from%202017. Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
9. Essilor Global, Presbyopes U&A – B3TSI 2018 – Brazil, China, France, India, USA. – 9,696 Respondents
10. https://www.thehealthy.com/eye-care/what-is-presbyopia/ Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
11. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/8567-common-aged-related-eye-problems. Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
12. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/presbyopia-a-to-z. Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
What exactly is a Progressive Lens?
A progressive lens has 3 zones; Far, intermediate, and near. + is where your eyes are situated, and It allows you to see distance clearly. The area above is of the same power, and you actually have a wide zone for far. Right at the bottom is where near power is situated. This is where most of the near task is located; below your natural vision like mobile phone, desk work, etc. In between the + and your reading area is what we call the ‘’corridor’’, this is where the power you require for intermediate, between 1-4m power is located. Notice the 2 sides with lines? These are slightly off powered area of the lenses where your eyes do not normally go to. These are the areas to avoid as they may cause some slight discomfort when you view them. When you look at different parts of the lens, the power is different and the reason for that is to give you the suitable power required for clear vision to that specific distance(13). Progressive lenses are an update of what we use to call bifocal lenses that were worn during your grandparents’ time, but modern technology has allowed us to manufacture such lens without the line in between to have a seamless look and smooth power ‘’progression’’ (12)
Progressive lenses are designed generally for people who start to have presbyopia yet wish to lead the life they used to be before they needed near vision correction without the need to carry another pair of reading glasses with them or simply removing their myopia glasses to see near. Some kids are fitted with progressive lenses for myopia management but that’s not what we want to discuss today(13). Anyone above the age of mid-30s is suitable, as soon as when you start experiencing problems with a near task like reading off your phone. In fact, getting adapted to a pair of progressive is like learning, the younger you start the easier it is for the wearer to get used to it(14).
13. https://www.healthline.com/health/what-are-progressive-lenses#disadvantages. Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
14. https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/about-progressive-lenses#1. Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
Why a Presbyopia person should wear a progressive lens instead of the usual reading glass?
As mentioned earlier, convenience. Wearers will no longer need to switch between 2 pairs of glasses, or adjusting or remove your glasses for reading. This improves how you look aesthetically, as it looks like any other pair of glasses and no one will be able to tell your age! Lastly, clear vision at all distances. No more struggling to read, or lifting your glasses to see near and life would return to nearly how it was before you had this issue.
Progressive lenses are customized lenses to only fit the wearer. As mentioned earlier it allows the wearer to see multiple distances (Far, intermediate – computer, near –reading) Wearers look natural without abnormal viewing habits like looking out of your glasses or lifting them above your head(16). Reading glasses only allows you to see at only one distance which is the reading distance. You will not be able to see anywhere further than the table or arm’s length distance. Which is why you often see people wearing their glasses like this. It is only a single power pair of glasses and it does not cater to computer distance which is very important in this digital time and age. Finally, you will have to keep those reading glasses after use and it increases the chances of you losing your reading glasses too. And if you get those ready-made reading glasses off the shelf, the power is not be customised for the particular Presbyopia power and the correct distance between your eyes, and usually, most will complain headaches after prolong use of such as most people do not have the same power on both eyes. As we usually say no one eyes are the same(15).
Currently, 83% of Singapore young adults are already myopic and most are already wearing glasses, hence bringing around another pair of reading glasses when you already have a pair worn on your face truly brings about much inconvenience on a daily basis, be it to physically carry it around or to change over when you require them(17).
15. https://timetoshade.com/blogs/news/reading-glasses-vs-bifocals-glasses Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
16. https://allabouteyes.com/get-progressive-lenses/ Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
17. https://www.moh.gov.sg/news-highlights/details/speech-by-dr-lam-pin-min-senior-minister-of-state-for-health-at-the-opening-of-the-singapore-national-eye-centre-s-myopia-centre-16-august-2019 Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
Why Essilor’s Varilux® Progressive lenses? What is the difference compared to the other progressive lenses in the market?
Being the first creators of progressives since 1959, a lot of Research and Development goes into this simple-looking pair of lenses (hold up lenses). There are over 400 million Varilux® wearers in the world, and 1 progressive lens out of 2 is a Varilux®. Essilor, the manufacturers of Varilux®, and the inventors of progressive lenses are among Forbes’ “World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies” in 2014. Varilux® is also the #1 progressive lens brand recommended by Eye Care Professionals worldwide.
These lenses have been tested in real-life conditions and validated by real-life wearers and hence bear the “Approved by wearers” mark. In Essilor, we incorporate a process called Live Optics. It is a 4 step process that places emphasis on not just lab testing, but more importantly the wearer, to ensure that every lens that is launched into the market is approved by actual wearers, where at least 8 out of 10 wears approve the design(18). Like many products, there are many designs you can choose from in the Varilux® portfolio. But generally, Varilux® Progressives considers the top 5 compelling reasons when you choose a pair of progressive:
- Clear vision at any distance: Near or far, the Varilux® range gives you clear vision whatever the distance.
- Total comfort in any task: Whether at work with a computer, using a smartphone or tablet screen, or simply reading the newspaper, the Varilux® range provides total comfort.
- High-resolution vision in any light: Varilux® lets you enjoy greater contrast and sharpness. The increase in quality is comparable to a full HD TV over a standard television.
- Dynamic vision steady in motion: Selected range are great for sports and staying active, the Varilux® range allow you to see perfectly – even in motion. Lenses are tailored to your visual behavior.
- Quick adaptation: All Varilux® lenses are tested and approved by wearers to ensure your satisfaction, including fast and easy adaptation. With Varilux® lenses, adaptation is guaranteed.
Varilux® Progressive lenses also come with Crizal Sapphire Coating that improves transparency and reduces reflection compare to other generic coatings in the market, along with easy handling and durability with scratch resistance, dust, smudge, and water repellent and good 35 ESPF for UV protection. It also comes with a default blue light protection with Crizal’s Blue UV Capture as an added feature. So in summary, Essilor’s Varilux Progressives are much easier to get adapted to, with increased comfort, a superior set of coat increases the durability of them, and the protection that your eyes need.
18. https://www.essilor.com.sg/products/varilux Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
What exactly is the adaptation process that a wearer needs to look out for? Giddiness, swimming effect since there’s multiple prescription power within a lens?
Although there are variations in individuals’ experience and the time taken to adapt to progressive lenses, most people get used to their lenses within 1 week or 2. The best way to get used to your new lenses is to move your head as well as your eyes when looking sideways, adjust to your glasses by wearing them in a familiar environment and avoid switching back to your old glasses(20). Like the analogy of doing something you’re new to – before becoming totally familiar, you tend to start slow and understand the use of it, like a totally new brand of mobile phone, navigating around a new house, driving a new car, etc. The same goes for progressives lenses.
A common myth or horror story that many hear about is will there be difficulty walking down steps? Or I always hear people falling from the use of Progressive Lenses. The fact that current progressive lenses are really easy to get used to and new users should have little difficulty adapting to them. For new wearers, you can tuck in your chin to avoid looking at the reading part of the lenses when walking down steps(19). Giddiness or swim effect is common when putting on your first pair of progressive, and as you adapt to it you will not see or feel them anymore. It is actually the case of your subconscious avoiding that area that gives you those discomforts. If you still face discomfort after 2 weeks, it may be a result of improper use of the lenses, or it could also be due to other reasons such as improper prescription or fitting. Visit your Optometrist when you experience any of the above so that they can address it(19).
Here I’ll like to share 3 tips to help in quick adaptation to wearing Progressives(20):
- Lowering your eyes instead of your head when you read
- Wear them often and avoid switching back to your single vision
- Turn your head from side-to-side or pointing your nose in the direction you wish to see.
Something to take note that to drive with your new pair of progressive lenses only once you are comfortable with your lenses, typically only after 2 weeks of use and when you’re confident with it.
19. https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/bifocal-progressive-lenses-adjustment#1 Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
20. https://www.vivafifty.com/tips-get-used-progressive-lenses-6529/ Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
Are there any research that shows average senior compromise their vision?
According to Euromonitor, more than 55% of Singaporeans are above the age of 40(21). Yet, 80% of them are not wearing progressives. Many were not receptive or are afraid to try is due to many horror stories they hear from their friends and family. But as the industry gets more experience with progressive fitting, coupled with advanced technology and innovation development – it is no longer a concern today. Another reason is that many do not know about such vision correction lenses options, it could be due to them no discussing their problems with the optical store they go to, or simply not getting a regular eye check.
Lastly, we believe that this topic is not raised up enough and more education and activities can be raised to increase awareness. Visual input is thought to be important in allowing individuals to co-ordinate and plan movement, as well as helping in maintaining balance. As for our seniors or elderly, they are more prone to accidents if their vision is not corrected properly, and they remain as the top priority of all eye care practitioners to ensure their sight is taken care of.
Poor vision, be it for distance or near, is one of the reasons why one in three community-dwelling elderly aged ≥ 65 years and one in two aged > 80 years will have at least one fall within a year. About 50 percent of people who said they had trouble seeing was afraid of falling or hurting themselves and as a result, limited their activity. More than one in four older adults with vision problems had recurrent falls in the year before they were surveyed(22).
21. https://blog.euromonitor.com/singaporean-consumers-in-2020-a-look-into-the-future/ Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
22. http://www.smj.org.sg/article/approach-falls-among-elderly-community Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
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