Contact Lens Options For Presbyopes

by CRfan

Presbyopes - people over age 40 who need help reading have plenty of options with contact lenses to improve their vision.

Presbyopes have an increasing and ever growing number of options available for visions correction today. Bifocals, the old standard, are being replaced in some cases by progressive spectacle lenses. These are also known as no line bifocals.

While these options are well known, fewer people are aware of the alternatives available in contact lenses for presbyopia.

Multifocal and bifocal contact lenses are available in both soft and hard materials. The hard (or gas permeable) lenses are somewhat less comfortable but do provide better optics and have less complications than the soft lenses. The main advantage of the soft lenses is their increased comfort and ease on handling compared to the hard. Newer soft lenses are also available in silicone hydrogel (SiHy). These allow more oxygen to the cornea than the previous hydrogel materials.

Here we look at a few of the options that are out there for presbyopes who would like to try contacts.

Contacts and Reading Glasses

Contact lenses for distance vision, with reading glasses simple worn over them for closer tasks are an option preferred by many people. They make the transition easy for those who already wear contact lenses. The drawback is, of course, the frequency with which you have to remove and replace your glasses as you alternate between near and far vision tasks. This can get annoying if you are having to do it too often.


One of the ‘buzzwords’ of eye care, monovision generally refers to the practice of wearing one contact lens for distance vision and the other for near vision.

It is an easier option for an eye doctor to prescribe for, partly because it requires less in the way of trial and error to find a lens that will work. It is not a solution that will suit everyone, depending very much on day to day tasks and use of vision as other factors that cannot always be predicted.

The problem occurs because each eye has a different length of vision with the contacts. One eye will work best for long distances but not well for short distances, and vice versa. Some people adapt easily to this but others struggle. Monovision can also cause problems with depth perception.

If it’s something you decide to try then you will have to accept that your vision will never be perfect. It is beneficial from a cost perspective though, as multifocal lenses are a lot more expensive than single vision ones

Modified Monovision

This is a term describing certain tactics that help to improve vision at a certain distance. It can involve a variety of things: one multifocal lens coupled with one single vision lens; combining Distance &Near lenses or using different add powers (reading powers) for each eye. 

Multifocal Soft Contacts


Similar to progressive eyeglass lenses, these designs blend different strengths together across the whole lens. The user’s eyes need to find the best zone to see at any given distance.

Concentric Ring

Also aspheric, these have more defined zones that alternate between far vision and near vision. They are rings, generally between two and five or more. Whether the center of the lens is for near or far focus depends on the individual prescription. 

GP Multifocal Contacts

These are often the most successful lenses (success rates go as high as 75% for GP multifocals). Easier to adapt to for people who have already worn GP lenses, they have a better optical quality than some of the other options.

Again, there are two categories:


Again, these are a simultaneous vision lens. In the case of GPS the power progression is set on the back of the lens. Better for the lower ‘add power’ of early presbyopes or for those who have problems with intermediate distance, these lenses are a very good option for heavy computer users.  


These have a weighted bottom, which helps the lens to correctly orient itself. They are best for distance and near vision. These lenses work like bifocal glasses, with one power on the upper half and another on the lower. The lower lid stabilizes the lens when the wearer looks through the lower, near, part of the lens. They do take some getting used to but provide excellent vision.

It's All About Expectations

If you do decide to opt for one of these newer options it is worth selecting a doctor who has some experience in multifocal lenses. They take more time to fit that single vision lenses and it is well worth finding a professional who has worked with them before.

Whichever type of vision correction you opt for it essential to understand the pros and cons of your choice. Your vision may never be perfect but can be greatly improved with a good choice of eyewear and some realistic expectations.

What Kind Of Multifocal Lenses Do You Use?

Updated: 07/04/2012, CRfan
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katiem2 on 07/06/2012

It's amazing, the new technologies with lenses is amazing. thanks for sharing these amazing lens options.

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