Did your ability to see up close change over night? After or around the age of 40, the lens inside the eye has a reduced ability to focus; this is a normal change in the muscles and lens structure. There is nothing you can do to change it. All of us will have our near vision affected. Most think that reading glasses or "cheaters" are the only options. However, contact lenses can be a great option for the right patient!
The two options for contact lens wear are multi-focal contacts or monovision contacts. The decision for one over the other is dependent on a careful evaluation by an eye doctor. Prescription, hobbies, occupation and visual demands will be asked by your doctor to find the perfect solution for you.
Multi-focal Contact Lenses for Reading
Multi-focal contacts are similar to a progressive lens, but yet work differently. I always describe a multi-focal design to patients like the Target brand logo. The concentric circles have different powers including a distance, intermediate, and near section. The success of multi-focals can be dependent on pupil size due to the size of the rings. Newer multi-focal lens options take pupil size into account, and do increase success. Patients who tend to do better with multi-focals tend to be those with similar prescriptions between their eyes, patients who are hyperopes, and those who prefer their reading to be improved over their distances. Benefits to multi-focal contacts include increased depth perception and quicker adaptation. Less lens options in lens comfort, price, and increased halo during night driving are possible negatives ramifications of multi-focal contact lenses.
Monovision Contact Lenses for Reading
Monovision contact lenses are the use of one eye for distance and one for near. This can be done with a contact lens in both eyes or just one eye depending upon the patient's prescription. The brain learns to adapt accordingly and suppresses one eye at distance and the other at near. This does not weaken or strenghten an eye. It does not cause an eye to become lazy. Surpringsly, the brain adapts very well and within several weeks. This is typically the preferred way to correct patients who see well in the distance and just need reading glasses. Patients love it because it allows them to go on vacation and see their phone with sunglasses or read a menu without having to put on readers. It is a lifestyle convenience! Benefits to this method include better distance, more prescriptions options, increased contact lens brand options. We can fit almost everyone in this method! Some downsides of this method include longer adaptation, and increased halo while driving at night.
For patients who are tired of readers, have an active lifestyle, and do not want to wear glasses, contact lenses can be an excellent options. Only an evaluation by an eye doctor can determine the best option for you, your lifestyle, and your visual demands.