If you already wear contact lenses, it may seem unnecessary to wear reading glasses. But the reality is that wearing reading glasses with contacts is common among older adults, especially those starting to show signs of presbyopia — an age-related condition characterized by blurred near vision. For people with presbyopia, doing close-up work, like reading a book, is difficult, hence why some may need to use reading glasses even if they already wear contact lenses.
If you’re in the same boat, you may wonder whether wearing reading glasses with contact lenses is safe. The short answer is yes. It is perfectly safe to wear reading glasses and contact lenses at the same time, as no scientific study has proven that it is detrimental to one’s eye health.
However, wearing reading glasses with contact lenses can be inconvenient and expensive in the long run. The good news is that this is not the only option for people with presbyopia. There are other solutions, such as multifocal contact lenses specifically designed for those who need vision correction for close-up work.
To help you get the most out of your contact lenses, we will go over everything you need to know about presbyopia and multifocal contact lenses in this article. We will also briefly go over how you should choose the right multifocal contact lens for you, as well as some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about multifocal contacts.
What is presbyopia?
Presbyopia is an age-related condition caused by the hardening of the eye’s lens. When you are young, the lens of your eye can easily change shape because it is flexible. But as you age, the lens becomes more rigid, making it hard to see up close.
Most people with presbyopia will begin to notice a change in their vision sometime around the age of 40. From then on until age 65, their vision will gradually get worse. The bad news is that presbyopia eventually catches up with everyone, meaning even those who have always had perfect vision will develop presbyopia sooner or later.
The good news is that presbyopia can be corrected with eyeglasses that have either progressive or bifocal lenses. Also known as multifocal lenses, progressive lenses contain three distinct optical powers in each lens. These powers allow the wearer to do close-up work (like reading a book), middle-distance work (like reading on a computer), and distance viewing (like driving) without having to use different glasses.
Bifocal lenses, on the other hand, have two distinct optical powers in each lens. In a typical bifocal lens, a small area in the lower part of the lens contains the power needed to correct near vision, while the rest contains the power needed to correct distance vision. The only downside to bifocal lenses is they provide a more limited range of vision than multifocal lenses. As such, they are typically prescribed for children and young adults with relatively minimal vision problems.
Replacing your reading glasses with contact lenses
Today, multifocal contact lenses are also an option for people with presbyopia. As the name suggests, multifocal contacts have three vision zones that enable the wearer to clearly see objects up-close, at a distance, and everywhere in-between. With multifocal contacts, you won’t ever need to wear extra eyewear like reading glasses.
Bifocal contact lenses are also an option for people with presbyopia, but these lenses have a clear line that separates the distance and close-up zones. This line makes for a noticeable transition between the two zones, which some people dislike. In contrast, multifocal contact lenses have no clear line separating the different power zones.
Multifocal contact lenses come in two designs: simultaneous image designs and alternating image designs.
1. Simultaneous image designs
In multifocal lenses in a simultaneous image design, the retina receives images from multiple distances at all times. The brain must determine which image is the main one being viewed and filter out the others. Simultaneous image designs allow for clear intermediate vision, as well as clear distance and near vision. These designs are available in both soft and gas-permeable materials and include aspheric, concentric, and diffractive lenses.
- Aspheric – Aspheric lenses feature an aspheric front or back surface, creating a multifocal effect. Front-surface aspheric lenses are center-near, while back-surface aspheric lenses are center-distance. Center-near designs favor near and intermediate vision, while center-distance designs favor distance vision.
- Concentric – Concentric lenses feature a central zone of distance or near power surrounded by one or more rings of the opposite power. This design helps improve pupil coverage and visual input under various lighting settings.
- Diffractive – As the name suggests, diffractive lenses diffract light (bend light as it passes obstacles) entering the eye to produce the images the retina receives. Diffractive lenses feature a distance center and a series of diffractive rings surrounding them.
2. Alternating image designs
Alternating image designs, also known as translating designs, have dedicated areas for distance and near correction. In most cases, the top of the lens is the distance portion, and there is a “line” at which the wearer can access the near portion. This design follows the same one as bifocal glasses. In theory, people wearing multifocal lenses with alternating image designs see well at a distance when looking straight ahead. When the wearer looks down, the lens moves up to position the near power area over the pupil.
Today, many of the newer multifocal contact lenses available on the market combine features of both simultaneous and alternating image designs to deliver superior visual performance.
Additionally, multifocal contact lenses come in different modalities to fit all lifestyles. For example, daily disposable multifocal contact lenses are ideal for people who do not enjoy the hassle of a lens care routine. Meanwhile, multifocal contacts indicated for overnight or extended wear may be suited for those with hectic schedules or highly active lifestyles, as these people may often forget to remove their contacts at the end of the day.
Choosing the right multifocal lens
Today, many multifocal contact lens options are available on the market, so how do you know which one is the right one for you? The answer is simple: talk to your eye care professional (ECP). Your ECP will recommend multifocal contact lenses based on your eye health needs, lifestyle, and budget.
That being said, it helps to know your options before you book an appointment with your ECP. Some good brands of multifocal contact lenses include AIR OPTIX® AQUA Multifocal by Alcon, Proclear® multifocal by CooperVision, and ACUVUE OASYS® for Presbyopia by Johnson & Johnson. Bausch + Lomb, a trusted name in eye care products, also carries several popular multifocal contacts, including ULTRA® for Presbyopia, SofLens Multi-Focal, and Biotrue® ONEday for Presbyopia.
These multifocal contacts are available on Lens.com at much lower prices than brick-and-mortar stores and doctors’ offices. Order now to get comfortable, high-performance multifocal contacts at unbeatable prices. You won’t find cheaper lenses anywhere else! You can also rest assured that the multifocal contacts found on Lens.com are the same trusted brands and contacts you can find in your ECP’s office or local store. By purchasing from Lens.com, you can save money without sacrificing quality.
Best Practices for Multifocal Contact Lens Care and Maintenance
Caring for your multifocal contact lenses is crucial for maintaining your eye health and ensuring your lenses remain comfortable and effective.
- Daily Cleaning: Even if your lenses are labeled as “extended wear,” it’s essential to clean them daily to remove accumulated proteins, lipids, and potential pathogens. Use a multi-purpose solution specifically designed for contact lenses and gently rub the lenses between your fingers.
- Storage: Always store your contact lenses in a clean lens case filled with fresh solution. Never reuse the old solution, as it won’t be as effective in disinfecting your lenses.
- Replace Your Lens Case Regularly: Lens cases can harbor bacteria and fungi if not properly cared for. It’s a good idea to replace your case at least every three months.
- Follow Your ECP’s Recommendations: Only wear your multifocal contact lenses for the recommended duration. Overwearing can lead to reduced oxygen supply to the cornea, resulting in complications.
- Stay Hydrated: If you have dry eyes or experience discomfort, using a preservative-free lubricating eye drop can help. Moreover, drinking plenty of water throughout the day can keep your eyes hydrated.
- Avoid Water: Never swim or shower with your contact lenses in. Water can introduce harmful microorganisms into your eyes, leading to infections.
- Regular Check-ups: Ensure you have regular appointments with your Eye Care Professional (ECP) to check the fit of your contact lenses and to ensure your eyes remain healthy.
By adhering to these care and maintenance tips, you can ensure the longevity of your multifocal contact lenses and maintain optimal eye health.
Navigating the challenges of presbyopia is made simpler with the introduction of multifocal contact lenses. These lenses, a fusion of convenience and technology, allow wearers to experience clarity at every distance, eliminating the constant switch between contacts and reading glasses.
However, the key to fully harnessing the advantages of multifocal lenses lies in diligent care and regular consultation with your ECP. Proper maintenance ensures not only the longevity of the lenses but also the health of your eyes. By making informed choices and committing to regular care, those with presbyopia can find a comfortable and efficient vision solution.
Frequently Asked Questions on Multifocal Contact Lenses
- What is presbyopia?
Presbyopia is the gradual loss of the eye’s ability to focus on nearby objects. It naturally occurs with age, usually becoming noticeable around the age of 40 and gradually worsening until age 65.
- What is the difference between multifocal contact lenses and bifocal contact lenses?
Multifocal contact lenses have three vision zones, so you can clearly see objects up-close, at a distance, and everywhere in-between. In contrast, bifocal contact lenses have only two vision zones, allowing you to see objects up-close and at a distance clearly.
- Who can wear multifocal contact lenses?
People with presbyopia, even those with no contact lens experience, can wear multifocal contact lenses successfully. However, you are an excellent candidate for multifocal contact lenses if you are already used to wearing contact lenses or have already successfully adapted to bifocal, trifocal, or progressive eyeglass lenses.
- Do you still need to keep your reading glasses once you get multifocal contact lenses?
Only if you want to, some people may want to keep their reading glasses for when they want to give their eyes a break from contact lenses. As long as your glasses prescription is up to date, there is no harm in hanging onto your glasses and even occasionally using them instead of contact lenses.
- How long does it take for eyes to adjust to multifocal contact lenses?
If your multifocal contact lenses are soft lenses (hydrogel or silicone hydrogel lenses), your eyes may take a few days to adjust to the lenses. If your multifocal contacts are rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses, your eyes may take weeks to get used to the lenses, and this is normal, as RGP lenses are not as pliable as soft lenses.
- Are multifocal contact lenses more expensive than single-power or bifocal contact lenses?
Yes. Generally speaking, multifocal contact lenses tend to be more expensive than single-power or bifocal contact lenses. But with a prescription from your ECP, your vision insurance should help to offset that cost.
- Can you wear multifocal contact lenses if you have dry eyes?
Yes, you can wear multifocal contact lenses even with dry eyes. Multifocal lenses made of hydrogel and silicone hydrogel materials are especially suitable for people with dry eyes, as these materials allow high levels of oxygen to pass through the lens and into the eye to keep it moist, clear, and healthy.
- Can you sleep in multifocal contact lenses?
It depends on the lens. Some multifocal contact lenses, like AIR OPTIX AQUA, can be worn continuously for up to seven days. Other multifocal contact lenses, like Biotrue ONEday for Presbyopia, can only be worn for one day, after which they should be removed and disposed of. To avoid contact lens-related complications, always follow the wearing schedule recommended by your ECP.
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