If you're over 40, beginning to lose your near vision, and would like to function without the use of either bifocal glasses or reading glasses then you may want to start thinking about contact lenses. There are two options for people who need both distance and near vision corrected...multifocal lenses and monovision. Multifocal contact lenses or bifocal contacts are soft, disposable contact lenses which correct distance and near with each eye. They are similar to bifocal glasses because both eyes are corrected for both distances but the design is very different. Monovision means one eye is corrected mainly for distance vision only and the other is corrected mainly for near vision only. This can be done with any type of contact lens on the market, including soft disposables. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method and not everyone is a candidate for both.
Multifocal Contact Lenses
Multifocal contact lenses come in many different brands and each is designed a little differently. Soft lenses continuously move and rotate on the eye and when the eye moves so does the lens so the design is not like a traditional bifocal with distance on top and near at the bottom. Instead, the lenses are made so that you see through both distance and near at the same time. Many soft multifocal contacts are designed with a very small circular area in the center of the lens. The center area has the prescribed bifocal power because physiologically the pupil of the eye constricts when a person reads up close. Therefore the small pupil area aligns itself almost entirely within the central focal power for near vision.
Since you are looking through a lens with two different focal powers when looking at faraway objects, it will not produce a perfectly clear image at first. The near portion will blur the distance vision slightly and the distance portion will blur near a little. You have to try them for a few days in order to adapt and your brain will eventually learn to compensate for the different image quality. Many people quit too early because they expect their vision to be equally as clear as it was with bifocal glasses. The contacts may never be equally as clear as glasses but with time and patience many people are able to function throughout the day without problems.
You would be a good candidate for multifocal lenses if you are very motivated to function without glasses, if you play sports or do a lot of outdoor activities or if you currently use contact lenses but can no longer see up close. Other good multifocal contact lens candidates include certain occupations such as an electrician, mechanic or someone who does a lot of computer work where you have to see up close but need more flexibility because you cannot be looking down through a pair of glasses all of the time. Lastly, if your expectations are reasonable you will make a better candidate. You most likely will not be able to read very small print so you have to be realistic about what you expect to do with the multifocal contacts.
Some of the multifocal brands and designs are as follows...
Air Optix Aqua Multifocal
The contact lens experts at Master Eye Associates highly recommend Air Optix Aqua Multifocals. Click here to learn why Air Optix Aqua Multifocals may be the best choice for you.
Purevision and Soflens Multi-focal lenses from Bausch and Lomb
These lenses have an aspheric design with near vision in the center which gradually transitions to intermediate and distance. They come with either low or high near power and provide a particularly clear image from 16-48" which makes them great for computer and near work. The Purevision Multifocals are newer and are made of silicone hydrogel which is a breathable material that is much healthier for the eyes if the lenses are being worn for many hours each day.
Biofinity and Proclear Multi-focal lenses from Coopervision
These lenses come with either a near or distance center and provide a variety of near powers from +1.00 to +2.50 so they can be specifically tailored to almost any need from computer to reading fine print. Some people would like to have better distance vision
with just a little magnification for near and these could be customized for that as well. The Proclear are made of a material which is FDA approved to be better for dry eye.
Biomedics EP from Coopervision
These lenses are for people in their early 40s who are just starting to lose their near vision. The best candidates are those needing less than a +1.25 add. They are not actual bifocal contact lenses but still provide clear near and distance vision at the same time.
Proclear Multi-focal Toric from Coopervision
These are the only bifocal lenses that are also designed to correct astigmatism. They are much more expensive than an average bifocal contact lens due to the custom design, but are a good option for those who have astigmatism and are not good candidates for monovision.
Focus Progressives from Ciba Vision
These contacts provide a smooth transition from distance to near vision and are the only multi-focal brand that offers a daily replacement.
Acuvue Oasys for Presbyopia from J & J
ACUVUE® OASYSTM for PRESBYOPIA features the unique optical design of STEREO PRECISION TECHNOLOGYTM and the exceptional comfort of HYDRACLEAR® Plus** technology. ACUVUE® OASYSTM for PRESBYOPIA contacts provide good vision at near, far and in-between and in many lighting conditions. Because of Acuvue's proprietary Hydraclear Plus technology the contacts also provide exceptional comfort even for those with dry eyes or in dry environments. The Hydraclear Plus technology also provides a lens surface that is so smooth that every blink is not even noticed. These lenses also provide the highest ultraviolet protection of any contact lens available by blocking at least 96% of the UV-A radiation and 100% of the UV-B from the sun.
ACUVUE® OASYSTM for PRESBYOPIA provide superior oxygen transmission by allowing 98% of available oxygen to the eye. The lenses are recommended for two weeks of wear before disposing. The lenses are easy to handle and have a visibility tint of light blue so you can see them in the case of if dropped.
Monovision refers to the method of correcting one eye for distance and the other for near vision. Usually a person's dominant eye is corrected for distance and tests can be done in office to determine which eye is the dominant one. There are several advantages and disadvantages to this method of correction.
A major advantage is that you are not forced to choose from a limited list of lenses. You can choose any type or brand of contact lens you want and if you already wear contact lenses, you can stay with the same brand that has always worked for you. If you suffer from problems such as dry eye, allergies, or contact lens discomfort then monovision could make it easier to find a lens that works well for you. Another advantage is that if you have astigmatism you will not be forced to purchase a very expensive, customized, toric multi-focal lens. You can use a regular disposable toric lens which will be much more affordable. Along the same lines, you can do a monovision fit with a lens which is less expensive than a multi-focal lens would be.
A disadvantage to monovision is that it will decrease depth perception. This may make night driving difficult and if you have any hobbies or a job that requires depth perception, it is not a good option for you.
Similar to the multi-focal lenses, monovision takes one to two weeks to adapt to the different vision. Your brain is used to using your dominant eye more at both distance and near so it has to get used to switching eyes based on where you are focusing. You may notice objects or print having a shadow image at first but with time that will go away. It is very important to give it a chance for at least a few weeks before giving up...even if it is very hard at first.
Whether you try multi-focal lenses or monovision, remember that there are many options available and we can find something that will work for you. The contact lens experts at Master Eye Associates have knowledge and experience with every type of contact lens available.