How Do Multifocal Contact Lenses Work

How Do Multifocal Contact Lenses Work

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People with presbyopia have the ability to enjoy clear vision without glasses thanks to modern technological advances in contact lenses. Multifocal and bifocal lenses are a perfect option for you if you need a prescription for reading, whether you need distance correction or not.


Presbyopia—What is it and what causes it?

You may start to notice your vision getting blurry or find it difficult to focus on close items after you turn forty. Known as presbyopia, this condition occurs slowly over time as you age.

You may also notice you have to stretch your arm out to see small writing or details more clearly, which is why this condition is also sometimes called “short arm syndrome.”

The lenses in your eyes gradually lose elasticity as you get older, causing the lens to harden. Light focuses behind your retina instead of on top of your retina, which keeps your eyes from being able to focus on things that are close by.


multifocal contact lenses


How can contact lenses help presbyopia?

Multifocal and bifocal lenses work to correct nearsightedness and farsightedness to correct presbyopia. To help you see more clearly at a variety of distances, these types of contacts have more than one prescription in them.

As you probably know, bifocal contacts have two different focal points—one for reading and one for distance prescriptions. And multifocal contacts, as the name suggests, have three different focal points—reading, intermediate, and distance prescriptions.


What kinds of multifocal contact lenses are available?

The three types of multifocal lenses are concentric, aspheric, and segmented.

Concentric lenses

Concentric multifocal lenses have rings on them, like a bull’s eye, that gradually transition from one prescription to the other—alternating nearsightedness corrections and farsightedness corrections.


Aspheric lenses

Similar to progressive eyeglass lenses, aspheric contact lenses have no visible lines. They blend between the prescriptions, beginning with one prescription in the middle and gradually changing toward the outside of the circle. In order to achieve accurate vision correction throughout the day, aspheric lenses are weighted so that they maintain the correct orientation on the eye.


Segmented bifocal lenses

Only available as rigid gas permeable lenses, bifocal contacts are similar to bifocal glasses. The upper half of the lens contains the distance prescription while the lower half contains the near prescription. So that it stays on the eye, the bottom of the lens is flattened. These lenses should be bought from your eye care professional because they require precise customization.


How do I know if I have a multifocal or bifocal prescription?

When you receive a written prescription from your eye care professional, it will include the brand, power, diameter, base curve, and add power. Prescriptions for gas permeable lenses also include dot details and color.


Each type of contact lenses are made differently and fit differently. Infection or discomfort may occur if you try to use contacts that have not been prescribed specifically for you. To be sure you get the safest and most comfortable fit, you must have a valid prescription for your contact lenses.


Ask a professional if you need help in understanding your prescription or to determine whether you have a prescription for contact lenses.


What other methods can help with presbyopia?

Multifocal and bifocal contact lenses are not your only option when it comes to correcting presbyopia. Some other methods include monovision, wearing glasses and contact lenses together, and progressive or bifocal glasses. Ask your eye care professional about which method is best for you and your vision needs.



Wearing single vision contact lenses in each eye is referred to as monovision. You wear your distance correction in your dominant eye and your near correction lens in your other eye.


In order to make sure you get the best fit and that the vision is balanced between your eyes, you must have a valid prescription from either an optometrist or a contact lens fitter.


Wearing glasses and contact lenses together

Sometimes eye care professionals decide that it is better to wear contacts and glasses together. In this case, you would wear distance correction in your contact lenses and reading glasses when you need to see things up close. Progressive glasses can cause peripheral distortion, and this method will help.



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