Multifocal Contact Lenses

Multifocal contact lenses are a boon for those who despise reading glasses, or what they consider as a sign of old age. Here's more about the function and types of these lenses, and their pros and cons...
WellnessKeen Staff
Multifocal contact lenses have emerged as a great option for those suffering from eye vision problems, mainly presbyopia. It is a condition that affects those who are above 40 years of age, where reading fine print and focusing on objects that are close within the range of vision becomes difficult. You may have noticed them trying to read fine print by holding the object at arm's length distance for clarity. For such a condition, they are prescribed what are known as reading glasses. However, those suffering from presbyopia also have the choice of multifocal contact lenses, that enable clear vision for both close and distant objects.
While many assume that multifocal and bifocal contact lenses are the same, in effect, there are certain differences in the two. Bifocal is a type of design that is employed to make multifocal contact lenses. These types of lenses have two different vision powers, for near and distant vision. They are designed in the concentric bifocal pattern, where the provision for near vision is made at the center of the lens, while the provision for distant vision is made at the larger outer edge of the lens. This configuration can also be flipped when necessary. The other multifocal contact lens design involves progressive change in the power of the lens, in order to accommodate the requirement for both, near and distant vision. The two materials they are available in are Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP), and soft lenses. While the former are suitable for prolonged wear, the latter are better suited for shorter periods.
Alternating or translating multifocal contact lens designs are created in a manner that the lower portion of the lens enables near vision, while the upper portion enables distant vision, similar to bifocal glasses. This design is available in what is known as a Gas Permeable (GP) material, that are slightly hard. This design is suitable for activities such as reading and driving. The other design that is available in this style is the simultaneous image design, that consists of both vision correction abilities at the front of the pupil. Based on your requirement your focus will change towards near and distant vision.
Even those who have astigmatism can use these lenses. They consist of a toric lens design, that consist of varying thicknesses to deal with the condition. Finally, monovision contact lenses are designed for the dominant (for distant vision) and the non-dominant (for near vision) eye. Your dominant eye will be determined by your eye care professional after conducting a few tests.
Pros and Cons
While the biggest advantage of these contact lenses is that they eliminate the need for eyeglasses, and are as comfortable as regular contact lenses (save the initial period of getting used to them), there are certain cons associated with this product. For one, these are slightly difficult to use when working on a computer screen, at least in the initial phase. The constant need to look downward to read information on the screen can cause severe discomfort and eventually result in a bad headache. This problem, however, can be corrected by changing the position of the computer screen so that you can look at it more comfortably. Some feel that these cause displacement of objects and images. This means, objects may appear in a slightly different position than they actually are, or they may look larger or smaller than their original size. This has resulted in several people facing minor accidents because a step may have looked higher or lower than it actually was. Finally, these lenses also do not provide the clarity that is experienced with regular progressive eyeglasses, and sometimes, you may still need your glasses along with these lenses for your daily activities.
More often than not, most of these initial problems are corrected once the wearer gets used to lenses. Initially, blurred vision, glare, halos around lit up objects, and haziness due to prolonged wear may be experienced. These issues wear off with regular use. However, sometimes, people may simply not be able to get used to wearing these lenses, in which case, they will have to go back to their regular reading glasses. It is only after wearing them that you will be able to decide whether or not you will be able to use these contact lenses, and how suitable they are for your personal requirements.