How the Lens Inside Your Eye Works
The lens is inside your eye, directly behind the iris and pupil. It is responsible for fine tuning focus. The cornea is responsible for the bigger picture, the distance vision you use while driving or looking across the room. The lens pulls the fine details into sharp focus, so you can read, thread a needle, or use tweezers to pull a splinter out of your foot. The lens changes shape to focus the light on the retina. As we age, we lose this ability, thus the need for reading glasses or bifocals.
Accommodation refers to the fine focusing the lens performs. The ciliary muscle is a ring of muscle attached to the outer rim of the lens. It controls the shape of the lens, making it more rounded and thick or stretched to be thinner and flatter. This changes the precise focusing of light on your retina.
Presbyopia is the word for the loss of accommodation so many people begin to develop after the age of 40. The lens gets stiff and it does not adjust as well as it used to, so your eyes need help in making the fine adjustments. If you never had to wear glasses before, you will need reading glasses to read and do other close work. If you already wear glasses or contacts for distance vision, you may be able to opt for bifocals so you do not have to switch between your regular glasses and your readers.
Cataracts are clouding of the lens of the eye. Cataract surgery replaces your natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). There are many types of IOLs and with certain advanced IOLs, you may be free from (or at least able to reduce your dependence on) reading glasses after cataract surgery.
If you are experiencing declining vision, such as difficulty reading or focusing on finer tasks, talk to your ophthalmologist about surgical and non-surgical solutions. Search this directory for an ophthalmologists near you.