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Seemingly a rite of passage for anyone over 40, presbyopia (near-sightedness) can be a game-changer for nail techs. Learn simple ways to adjust to the inevitable so you’re not side-lined at work.

As we age, our bodies seem to betray us: aches and pains, unfamiliar weight distribution, sagging and wrinkles. Our eyes are not exempt from the aging process. In fact, a condition called “presbyopia” is referred to as “aging eyes.” This condition causes objects viewed up close, such as your clients’ nails, to become blurred.

Presbyopia is different from hyperopia, or far-sightedness, which is the ability to view distant objects clearly. Hyperopia also blurs close objects, but it’s due to an imperfection in the eyeball or the lens rather than age.


Sufferers of presbyopia are likely to be confused at first. Tasks that seemed natural (peering at a blemish in the mirror, trying to remove a splinter, clipping cuticles, or shaping nails) periodically seem troublesome. You can’t quite focus and, at first, you wonder if you’re tired or your contacts are dirty. As it continues, you realize this is what you’ve been warned of; your eyesight isn’t what it used to be. Symptoms will progress and may include headaches and tired eyes. It’s likely you will find yourself resting or rubbing your eyes and moving objects (or your head) further away to compensate for the blurred vision.


Nearly everyone, given time, will develop presbyopia. Even those with hyperopia and myopia (near sightedness) will notice a change in their eyesight as they age. Their original condition will combine symptoms with presbyopia, making it necessary to adjust their prescription to correct the additional symptoms.

Similar to a camera lens, an eye lens expands and contracts to focus. The muscles that surround the eye move the lens in order to accomplish this. As we age, the muscles lose their elasticity and the lens loses its flexibility. The result is an inability to focus so vision is blurred.


It’s time to find a set of readers. You can choose easily accessible and inexpensive ones from any drugstore, or you can get a prescription from your eye doctor. For nail techs, choose the weakest correction that allows you to see your clients’ nails clearly. You may need a different set for reading, since you hold a book at a different distance than a client’s hand. As the condition worsens, change the corrective prescription.


Rather than purchase readers over the counter, you could consult an eye doctor for the prescription. If you already wear contact lenses or glasses, the doctor can prescribe lenses that function as multi-focal or bi-focal correction. That means the top of the lens (either the contact lens or the eyeglass lens) will correct distant vision while the lower section will correct blurriness for objects up close. Another option is to be outfitted with one lens that corrects presbyopia and another to correct a secondary condition of myopia or hyperopia. The body learns which eye to use to focus for each task.

Surgery is also an option, though success varies. One surgery, called keratoplasty, shrinks the corneal tissue with radio-frequency, improving nearsightedness. However, the benefits of this surgery are only temporary. A second option, LASIK, can correct one lens to see objects up close, and the other for objects in the distance. Doctors have had recent breakthroughs in understanding presbyopia and have developed additional options, including corneal inlays, but are waiting for FDA approval for these new methods.


This article is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.

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