As you reach your 40’s, you may find that your eyesight has changed, necessitating some type of vision correction. If that’s the case, bifocal and multifocal contact lenses may be options you should consider.
The Different Between Bifocals and Multifocal Lenses
Bifocal contact lenses have two powers, just like bifocal eyeglass lenses. One power is for seeing clearly far away and the other for seeing clearly close up.
Multifocal contact lenses have a range of powers for seeing things clearly far away, up close and everywhere in between. This is just the same as progressive eyeglass lenses. Multifocal is also a term used for all lenses with more than one power, including bifocals.
Both of these types of contact lenses are available in soft and rigid gas permeable (GP) materials.
Types of Multifocal Contact Lenses
There are basically two types of multifocal contact lenses, depending on the design.
The first type is called simultaneous vision lenses. With these, both zones of the lenses, near or far, are in front of your pupil at the same time. This may sound impractical but, after a short time, your eyes will learn to use the power you need and ignore the other lens power, depending on what you are looking at.
Simultaneous contact lenses are the most popular type of multifocal lenses. They are nearly always a soft lens and are available in two designs.
• Concentric ring designs are bifocal lenses with either the distance or near power in the center of the lens, with alternating rings of distance and near powers encircling it.
• Aspheric Designs are progressive-style lenses with many powers commingled across the lens surface. Some aspheric lenses have the distance power in the center, while others have the near power in the center of the lens.
Alternating vision, also known as translating lenses, are rigid gas permeable (GP) multifocal lenses that are designed like bifocal eyeglass lenses. The top part of the lens has the distance power and the bottom part has the near power. Looking straight ahead, your eye is looking through the distance part of the lens but, when you look down, as when you’re reading, your eye is looking through the near zone of the lens.
Deciding Whether Multifocal Lenses Will Work for You
Most people are happy with their multifocal lenses but some compromises may have to be made when you wear them. For instance, your distance vision may not seem clear enough and you may be troubled by glare at night or not being able to read small print.
In some instances, monovision (single vision contact lenses), or modified monovision may be a better option.
With monovision, one eye wears a single vision contact lens for distance and the other eye wears a single vision contact lens for near vision. In modified monovision, you would wear a single vision distance lens on one eye and a multifocal lens on the other eye for better vision close up.
Consult with your eye doctor to determine the best contact lens option for you.