Doctors in the House - Eyesight & Insomnia

1) I am currently 40. I have perfect eyesight but recently, my vision becomes blurred when items are less than 30cm away from my eyes. I get giddy trying to strain to see. Is this normal for “lao hua yan” or is it the start of something serious?

  • Yes, the symptoms you describe are likely to be due to " lau hua yan" or presbyopia.  
  • Presbyopia is part of the natural aging process of the eye, and technically, it is the loss of the eye's ability to change its focus to see objects that are near.
  • It's as natural as wrinkles, and it affects everyone at some point in life. Presbyopia generally starts to appear around age 40.
  • Presbyopia is often confused with farsightedness, but the two are different.
  • Presbyopia occurs when the natural lens in the eye loses flexibility. Farsightedness occurs as a result of the natural shape of the eyeball, which causes light rays to bend incorrectly once they have entered the eye.
  • Symptoms of presbyopia include:

1) The need to hold reading material at arm's length / further than previously required

2) Blurred vision at a normal reading distance.

3) Headaches (usually around the brow area), or eye strain from doing prolonged close work.

  • An eye doctor can diagnose presbyopia by performing a thorough eye exam.
  • Presbyopia cannot be cured. Instead, prescription glasses, contact lenses, reading glasses, progressive addition lenses, or bifocals can help correct the effects of presbyopia.
  • Bifocals are often prescribed for presbyopia. Bifocals are eyeglasses that have two different prescriptions in one spectacle lens. The top part of the lens corrects for distance vision and the lower portion of the lens is designed to help a person see objects up close.
  • Progressive addition lenses are similar to bifocals but they are made to have a gradual or blended transition between the two prescriptions.
  • Contact lenses used to treat presbyopia include multifocal lenses, which come in soft or gas permeable versions, and monovision lenses, in which one eye wears a lens that aids in seeing objects at a distance, while the other has a lens that aids in near vision.
  • Other possible options for the management of presbyopia include refractive surgery (e.g LASIK) or corneal implants (implants are still under evaluation and are not widely used in Singapore).

2) I can’t sleep well at night. I have no stress or disturbances but I find myself waking up after a few hours of sleep and then falling asleep again after a few minutes. Help!

  • It is normal to wake up a few times in the night and be able to fall asleep again within a few minutes. Worrying about this, however, is liable to give more sleeplessness!!!

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