Dom Joly: ‘Don’t Keep Your Eyesight At Arm’s Length’


If you ever find yourself holding a menu away from you, or your mobile phone at arm’s length to read what the text says, you’re not alone. In fact, you could be one of the one in seven people in the UK with presbyopia.  

Presbyopia is the gradual loss of your eyes’ ability to focus on nearby objects and is a natural part of ageing.  

Comedy icon Dom Joly, 53, has also recently discovered he has the condition. He has teamed up with Specsavers to recreate his legendary giant phone sketch, only now the phone is oversized to make the screen easier to read without specs.  

Dom says: ‘Presbyopia happened to me gradually and I hadn’t realised that I needed glasses. I thought I had 20:20 vision and that my eyes were simply tired. But I started to squint more often when I was reading and especially using my phone. I was making the text bigger and bigger – so much so that there was about nine words on the screen!  

‘Rather than doing something about it, I just thought “Well that’s life!”, and got on with my day-to-day. Eventually I had an eye test and realised I needed specs. Presbyopia is a just a sign of getting older and perfectly normal.  

‘Now life is so much clearer, and I realise I should have had an eye test a long time ago.’  

Presbyopia usually becomes noticeable in your mid to late 40s and gradually worsens until 65. Your optician will check your vision in the same way as they would to determine whether someone is short-sighted or ‘myopic’. Most who have the condition find that they just need to wear reading glasses or multifocal glasses or contact lenses.  

Common symptoms include: 

● Having difficulty reading small print 

Needing to hold reading material, such as a mobile, at arm’s length to focus properly on it 

Having eye strain or headaches after reading or doing close work 

Needing brighter lighting when reading or doing close work 

Squinting to bring objects into focus 

Dom continues: ‘When I had an eye test at my local Specsavers, I realised it was so much more than just getting glasses. The test gives you a wider health assessment too, as it can spot indications of diseases and other eye conditions.  

‘The test itself is nothing to worry about and there is a huge choice of frames. I find they make me look more intellectual and, in a way, more expressive.  

‘Importantly it means that you can read with ease again – reduce the font size on your phone, read menus in a darker room, all the little things that make life easier. The downside is that you can really see your family’s faces in focus. You realise how much they disapprove of you and don’t find you funny… But maybe that’s just mine!’  

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