A more invasive option is a "lensectomy," where the stiff lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one. This is already done for people who develop cataracts, or cloudy lenses, another common eye condition among older adults. New but expensive "multi-focal" lenses allow for both distance and near vision.
"This can be done on patients who don't have cataracts, but the risk-benefit ratio becomes an issue. You're doing a lens-based surgery, with the potential problems of infection," said Soloway, noting that the risk is low, but still something to consider.
Still, Dhaliwal said that it's often an appealing option for people who have presbyopia and the income to afford the surgery, which can cost about $4,000 to $5,000 for each eye. Not only will they never need surgery for cataracts, they'll also be able to see up close and at a distance.
"This is becoming much more popular. People have disposable income more and more often and they want the freedom and the option," she said.
In the coming years, other surgical options may become widely available, such as the insertion of implants in the sclera, or the white part of the eye. This, in theory, relaxes the muscles that control the lens, allowing it to focus. This method is still undergoing testing in clinical trials.
In the meantime, before you consider any eye surgery, MacDonald says it's important to know your surgeon's track record.
"It's surgery and anytime we're operating on your eye, we're putting your eye at risk," MacDonald said. "It's something to have a really lengthy discussion with your surgeon about. Questions of whether they're monitoring the outcomes of their patients, how long they've been doing surgery, and the success rate."