March 12, 2014: Contact Lenses for "Forty-itis"
Once we reach our mid40s, presbyopia – the normal, agerelated loss of flexibility of the
lens inside our eye – makes it difficult for us to focus on near objects. In the past, reading
glasses were the only option available to contact lens wearers who wanted to read a menu or
do other everyday tasks that require good near vision, But today, a number of multifocal
contact lens options are available for you to consider. Multifocal contact lenses offer the best
of both worlds: no glasses, along with good near and distance vision.
Types of multifocal contact lenses
Some multifocal contact lenses have a bifocal design with two distinct lens powers – one
for your distance vision and one for near. Others have a multifocal design somewhat like
progressive eyeglass lenses, with a gradual change in lens power for a natural visual
transition from distance to closeup. Multifocal contacts are available in both soft and rigid
gas permeable (RGP or GP) lens materials and are designed for daily wear or extended
(overnight) wear. Soft multifocal lenses can be comfortably worn on a parttime basis, so
they're great for weekends and other occasions if you prefer not to wear them on an allday,
every day schedule.
Until you have a contact lens fitting, there's no way to know for sure if you'll be able to
successfully adapt to wearing multifocal contact lenses. If multifocal lenses aren't comfortable
or don't give you adequate vision, a monovision contact lens fitting may be a good alternative.
Monovision uses your dominant eye for distance vision and the nondominant eye for near
vision. Righthanded people tend to be righteye dominant and lefthanded folks lefteye
dominant. But your eye care professional will perform testing to make that determination.
Usually, single vision contact lenses are used for monovision. One advantage here is that
single vision lenses are less costly to replace, lowering your annual contact lens expenses.
But in some cases, better results can be achieved using a single vision lens on the dominant
eye for distance vision and a multifocal lens on the other eye for intermediate and near vision.
Other times, your eye doctor may choose a distancebiased multifocal on your dominant eye
and a nearbiased multifocal on the other eye. These techniques are referred to as “modified