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Thu, Sept. 19

New help for that bane of middle-age: blurry close-up vision

Dr. Mark Whitten, left, leads Christianne Krupinsky out of eye surgery in Washington after inserting a Raindrop inlay, a disc implanted in the cornea to reshape it for better close-up focus. This new kind of eye implant corrects presbyopia, the need for reading glasses that eventually hits all of us, usually starting in the 40s.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Dr. Mark Whitten, left, leads Christianne Krupinsky out of eye surgery in Washington after inserting a Raindrop inlay, a disc implanted in the cornea to reshape it for better close-up focus. This new kind of eye implant corrects presbyopia, the need for reading glasses that eventually hits all of us, usually starting in the 40s.

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This new kind of eye implant corrects presbyopia, the need for reading glasses that eventually hits all of us, usually starting in the 40s. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Squinting while texting? Always losing your reading glasses? An eye implant that takes about 10 minutes to put in place is the newest in a list of surgical repairs for the blurry close-up vision that is a bane of middle age. But who's really a good candidate to toss their specs?

"It's not bringing anybody back to being 20 again," cautioned Dr. Shilpa Rose, a Washington ophthalmologist who tests whether patients' eyes are healthy enough to qualify. "But it decreases the need to rush to get that pair of reading glasses every time you want to send a text or read an email."

Nearly everybody will experience presbyopia at some point, usually starting in the mid-40s. At first you may notice yourself holding restaurant menus at arm's length. Eventually, even in good light, reading becomes a blur.

How well you see has to do with how light is directed through the natural lens to the back of the eye. That lens stiffens with age, losing its ability to shift and bend light so that it becomes more difficult to focus close-up.

The usual options are magnifying drugstore reading glasses or, for people with other vision problems, bifocals, multifocal contact lenses or what's called monovision, correcting for distance vision in one eye and near vision in the other.

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