Presbyopia: Improving vision for today’s consumers & lifestyles

Our eyes and vision change over time, particularly as we age. People generally experience the greatest changes to their vision from their 40s onwards when many adults begin to have difficulty in seeing clearly close-up for reading, using smartphones and other near vision tasks. Called presbyopia, this is a normal change that affects the ability of the eye to focus. Explore this universal phenomenon and the different solutions that help us continue to see clearly as we get older…

Presbyopia - a natural evolution
of our vision

No one is born with presbyopia but we all develop it. As the crystalline lens of our eye becomes less elastic, the ability to focus on nearby objects diminishes. It mostly affects the over-40s – both women and men - and tends to stabilize after the age of 60.

Symptoms of

You'll notice if you have presbyopia because your ability to see close-up objects gets progressively worse. Typical signs include:

  • short-arm syndrome - you have hold books, newspapers or smartphones further away in order to read!

  • reading print, for example a restaurant menu, is more difficult, especially in dim light

  • eye fatigue - you experience discomfort as your eyes struggle to focus on close objects

Presbyopia affects an individual’s ability to enjoy and carry out a range of near vision activities – from reading, writing, cooking to precision tasks required in the workplace.

How vision evolves over
our lives

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Everyone will develop presbyopia, regardless of gender, income and wherever s/he lives in the world. It’s the world’s most widespread vision difficulty and one that significantly affects people’s quality of life, in both developed and developing nations.

A growing need

  • In 2015 an estimated 2.1 billion people in the world were affected by presbyopia.
  • By 2030 this is expected to increase to 3 billion*

Getting vision corrected

  • In Europe 92% of people with presbyopia have their eyesight corrected.*
    Rates of correction are lower in the Americas (North and South). More than 13% are not equipped.
  • In Asia, nearly 1 in 2 people aged 45 and over don’t have the vision correction they need.

Environmental conditions such as hot climates, high levels of UV radiation and chronic deficiencies of essential amino acids can play a role in causing early-onset presbyopia. Countries in the Global South (developing countries) have seen vision loss beginning as early as the mid-30s, compared to typical onset in mid-40s in developed nations.**

Different solutions for presbyopia
and other visual defects

There’s a range of solutions available to improve the vision of presbyopes,
some of which can also correct other visual defects.
Explore these in our quick guide.


Bifocal lenses were invented in the 1780s by Benjamin Franklin.
Progressive lenses (Varilux) were invented in 1959 by Bernard Maitenaz, an engineer at Essilor who was convinced that one lens with variable curvature providing clear vision at all distances would be a much better solution.

If you already have another vision correction, for myopia, hyperopia and/or astigmatism, progressive lenses are a simple and effective solution to remedy the difficulties of presbyopia without the need to change glasses constantly. Their principle: a power that varies smoothly and seamlessly over the surface of the lens. At the top of the lens, it adapts to far vision; in the middle, intermediate vision; at the bottom, near vision.

No pair of progressive lenses is alike, even though the differences are invisible! Progressive lenses come in a range of designs to match people’s vision requirements, lifestyle, frames choice and budget. In addition to a wearer’s prescription they may be designed to fit certain characteristics or personalized to fit other individual parameters.

progressive lenses

High-end progressive lenses are individually designed to a wearer’s unique parameters like frame, tilt and other visual behaviors such as reading distance.

Other lenses can be designed for wearers with similar characteristics eg right/left handed, men/women or ethnic characteristics.

Innovation for better correction,
protection and visual health

People's lifestyles and aspirations are constantly changing with the times. And technology innovation plays a leading role in better correcting, protecting and enhancing our vision. The presbyopes of today and tomorrow are Generation X - consumers born between 1965 and 1980 – who are highly active, digitally connected and don't want to be limited by their vision...

At Essilor innovation is driven by exploring consumer needs and imagining how to improve daily lives into the future. Putting consumers at the heart of innovation involves many new and different approaches to stimulate creativity and understand all needs...

In conversation
with consumers

  • Web listening

  • Online communities

  • Selfie feedback

We track the concerns, questions and vision issues people talk about in their online conversations on social networks.

We've created two Sharing Views communities in China and the US to get into conversation with over 4,000 consumers and pitch ideas, test concepts as well as generate ideas together.

We ask people to show us through selfie videos what they experience with their lenses and suggest what could be improved.

As part of wearer testing for its latest generation of progressive lenses, Essilor set up a HouseLabTM. The aim: immerse wearers in a natural but controlled environment to observe and discuss their experiences as they try out our lenses in a range of close vision activities.

This 360° innovation approach has been the driving force behind the Varilux® X seriesTM, specially designed for the needs of Generation X. By re-shaping a new near vision zone, these lenses enable wearers to seamlessly capture every detail within arm’s reach as well as ensure quality vision at all distances. It overcomes a typical frustration with many progressive lenses – having to adjust one’s head to find the right vision zone in the lens.

Combining in-depth understanding of optics and human physiology with latest advances in lens design, Essilor is able to develop progressive lenses adapted to the visual needs and lifestyle demands of all those who experience presbyopia.
Explore the different vision correction solutions available from within our Group.


* Essilor data

** Jain, I.S., J. Ram and A. Gupta. 1982. “Early Onset of Presbyopia”. American Journal of Optometry and Physiological Optics 59(12): 1002-4.



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