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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Reading Glasses
April 2000

Q. Why do I need reading glasses?

A. As you get older, the lens in the eye loses some of its elasticity. What does this mean? Well, the lens is what focuses the light coming into the eye. The light from near objects has to be bent more than the light for objects in the distance; as the eye looks near and far the lens changes shape to bend the light the right amount. The loss of elasticity means the lens can no long bend the light of objects that are very close. You eyes then need the help of an additional len (your reading glasses) to bend the light.

Why is the lens affected this way? Many parts of your body change as you age. The skin, for example, also loses elasticity, which is why we wrinkle as we age.

Ciba Vision, an eyecare company, has an excellent series of web pages on this topic. The pages begin with http://www.cibavision.com/forsight/eyecond/C03.04.html.

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