Woman holds up new glasses

I’m Seeing the Benefits of Aging, Bifocals, and MS

“Just read me the letters from the lowest row you can see,” the ophthalmic nurse instructed.

“You mean there are letters in front of my eyes right now?” I questioned.

And so it began. I was finally feeling my age.

Getting my vision tested

While I am not that old, it’s the fact that I am now 49 years old as of my writing this and facing more mature milestones than I am mentally prepared to face. My husband, Dan, had encouraged me to see the ophthalmologist after a few too many moments of me making comments like, “No way? I didn’t see that!” as we drove around town and he pointed out major obstacles I was missing.

I met with the eye doctor who could help me see things more clearly. And clearly, there was no denying that squinting my way through life would no longer suffice. After the doctor dilated and tested my eyes, she lowered the boom that a pair of bifocal glasses were in my future.

Bifocals!? No way!

Surprised and mortified as I was, I remembered that I needed to trust this doctor. After all, it was an ophthalmologist who first mentioned the potential reality of multiple sclerosis more than two decades ago.

I learned about MS because of vision issues

Back then in 1997, I was dealing with double vision and a left eye that did not move. My primary doctor had referred me to an ophthalmologist, a doctor who specializes in diseases of the eye. After he did a thorough exam, he mentioned something about optic neuritis and that my symptoms looked a lot like MS.

Guess he lowered quite a boom, too. Remind me again why I see an ophthalmologist?

Okay, but for real, bifocals can help people like me who have trouble seeing both up close and far away. The primary reason people need bifocals is due to a condition called presbyopia, which naturally occurs with age. Presbyopia refers to the progressive loss of the eyes’ ability to adjust focus for near vision. And as I am getting older, I want to see clearly, so I have to make the most of the opportunity to get the help (or glasses) I need.1

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Turning to devices to improve quality of life

After living with MS almost 26 years, I know the importance of a device that improves the quality of my life. For example, my wheelchair makes my day-to-day life so much better.

Honestly, this acceptance and appreciation of my wheelchair was not always the case. I was young when I was diagnosed, and my disease course was aggressive. I stubbornly struggled to continue walking, but after one-too-many falls and realizing I was missing out on life because I did not have the strength, stamina or confidence to safely walk, I looked into a wheelchair to aid in my mobility.

My wheelchair makes it possible for me to stay active and involved in society. Likewise, I am pretty confident glasses with bifocal lenses will function the same way.

Something to consider

One last thing to consider: the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends complete eye exams every two to four years between the ages of 40 to 54 and then every one to three years between the ages of 55 to 64. For those at higher risk of eye diseases, the length between exams may be shorter.2

MS is unpredictable and difficult enough to control. But if we can help manage our vision with glasses and eye appointments, I think it can be beneficial.

See what I mean?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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